Some CSOs join Moscow working group on the homeless

“CSOs have outgrown their go-it-alone approach”: A working group on the homeless to be established in Moscow


This specialist working group will include not-for-profit organisations that provide help to the homeless, with their work to be coordinated by the E.P. Glinka Centre for Social Adaptation.

The idea for the group came from the Glinka Centre at a strategy meeting on “Prospects for the development of assistance to citizens of no fixed abode”. This was attended by representatives from the Federation’s Department of Labour and Social Protection in Moscow, together with Moscow-based CSOs that work with the homeless.

“For the first time in many years, we were able to discuss homeless-related issues with officials face-to-face”, said Alania Zhurkina, Director of the House of Friends Centre and a participant in the strategy session. “We covered a lot of issues that are of concern to us which, I believe, forms the basis for further work”.

“CSOs that work closely with the homeless have outgrown their go-it-alone approach. We have been saying for a long time that we need some interaction with the State. We have started to receive grants and someone has found us some premises. Our aim is to secure the maximum benefit for the people we help which is why this collaboration and the ability to work together to resolve problems are so important”, said Zhurkina.

The CSO strategy meeting discussed what help was needed from the State and the city:

A hospital for the homeless

Olga Demicheva, President of the Dr Liza Fair Help Foundation, is planning to open a 600-bed hospital for homeless people in the capital and the Moscow region. At present, only emergency care is available to them and they can only receive routine treatment if they have compulsory medical insurance and are registered at their place of residence.

“A disabled man who had lost both his legs was discharged after surgery to be treated at home, given bandages and asked to take prescribed medication. A woman urgently admitted to a hospital’s gynaecology department with serious bleeding was found to have uterine cancer – a tamponade was applied and she was discharged under the supervision of an oncologist. A man had his broken jaw wired in hospital, then discharged and booked in for surgery”, said Demicheva. None of these people received any further treatment because they were all homeless people without the requisite documentation.

CSOs can buy medicine for the homeless but are unable to provide quality medical care, said Demicheva. People are being discharged for medical treatment that does not exist. As a result, the number of chronically ill homeless people is multiplying, many of them requiring treatment for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, chronic pain syndrome and infectious diseases.

Creating a hospital for non-documented homeless people would not only prolong their lives but also ease tensions within society. Often these individuals have major social diseases which lead to the spread of tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis C and parasitic illnesses, all because they are not receiving proper care”, said Demicheva.

A hospital for the homeless should have an outpatients’ department which anyone in need of a doctor can attend, as well as an inpatients’ unit that provides therapeutic, surgical and palliative care, the expert believes.

“Most countries have such charity-run clinics. In addition to several municipal free hospitals, there are a dozen in each region which are managed jointly with religious and charity organisations”, said Demicheva. In her opinion, such institutions could sit within one of the new infectious disease hospitals which have been built during the pandemic in New Moscow and the Moscow region.

Demicheva also suggested setting aside several mercy beds at the E.P. Glinka Centre for Chronically Ill Homeless People.

A multi-functional centre for the homeless

Representatives of CSOs believe there is a need for the equivalent of Moscow’s multi-functional centres for the homeless, not only to enable them to renew their documentation but also to provide a systemised structure of information for people without a home.

“All colleagues who work with the homeless share one general concern. They want a common database of information which shows where someone has already received help. Sometimes this will have been provided by us, then by the House of Friends charity, which means CSOs are often spending money on the same person”, said Elena Nikulnikova, head of Dr Liza Fair Help Foundation’s charity programme.

Posters with information about the homeless have appeared at Moscow bus stops. Read more on:

Help on the streets and in shelters

The House of Friends is planning to open a third shelter in Moscow and continues to help homeless people on the street.

“I see large numbers of people who regularly give food to homeless people. This seems wrong to me as it just encourages them to live on the street and not to try and lead a normal life, which means that no psychologists will help them”, said Alania Zhurkina.

Another priority issue for discussion by the working group is what facilities homeless shelters need. Their requirements should be similar to those that apply to sanitoria and hostels for war veterans, said Emil Sosinsky, head of the Noah Workers’ Home network of shelters. More than 1,000 homeless people live in the organisation’s 17 shelters. According to Sosinsky, around 600,000 roubles have to be invested in each shelter in order for them to comply with fire safety regulations. Because of this, a number of shelters are in danger of closing.

“I would like to see more CSO colleagues helping the homeless. Unfortunately, not everyone is here today, particularly our friends from the Shelter network.” She hopes the organisers will invite everyone who is involved in helping the homeless in Moscow to the next meeting.

Alania Zhurkina suggests that CSOs develop regulations for work on the street: “I just saw how much a person can be helped”. Read more on


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