‘We Are Trying to Change Attitudes Towards Homelessness’
HSE University graduates and the Nochlezhka charity organisation have launched a social media project called ‘Gde-to ryadom’ (‘Somewhere Nearby’) about volunteering to help homeless people. The project offers a look at volunteer work from various perspectives through personal stories, expert opinions, and interactive cases.
The project’s creators—Nadezhda Gorshenina, Elizaveta Brednyaya, and Viktoria Zarieva—are all graduates of the HSE University Master’s in Transmedia Production in Digital Industries. ‘We graduated from the HSE University Faculty of Communications, Media, and Design. I think this is noticeable in the project, as we tried to highlight a single theme using different formats and micro-stories. They are effective individually, but only when you take them all together can you truly uncover the problem,’ explains Nadezhda Gorshenina.
At the end of the first year of their Master’s, the HSE University alumni launched their first media project—a podcast called ‘Eto mentalno’ (‘It’s Mental’). The podcast was created jointly with ‘Podrostki i kotiki’ (‘Teenagers and Cats’), a community that helps people experiencing mental health issues. Their guests included teenagers with borderline personality disorder, anorexia, and bulimia. ‘Working on the project, we understood how important social initiatives are for people who need help,’ says Nadezhda Gorshenina. ‘Every teenager we talked to said that “Podrostki i kotiki” had helped them. We realised that we wanted to talk about other similar programmes and tackle complex social topics that aren’t talked about often enough, such as teenagers’ mental health and homelessness.’
‘Volontery.doc’ (Volunteers.doc), a documentary series about the personal stories of volunteers at the Nochlezhka charity organisation.
‘Nevidimki’ (‘The Invisibles’), a podcast about homelessness and those who help homeless people.
‘Tak byvaet’ (‘It Happens’), a case study comprising a series of animated clips about the challenging situations faced by Nochlezhka volunteers when dealing with its clients. After watching a video, the viewer is asked to choose an option corresponding to what they would do in a certain situation.
‘We decided to take the idea for a project about homeless people to Nochlezhka (Russia’s oldest charity for homeless people) and wrote to Katya Ulisova, its coordinator. She invited us to the office and since then, we have been back regularly to interview the people featured in the programme, film them while they are volunteering, and speak to the staff to gather information for the case study. And they were always happy to see us,’ says Nadezhda Gorshenina. In the first meeting, they only discussed filming the programme, but in the end, the HSE University team created a project comprising a programme, a podcast, and animation. ‘Nochlezhka supported our work, and we are very grateful for that,’ say the team.
‘With our project, we have tried to at least somewhat change attitudes to homelessness. Homeless people are assigned a huge amount of unpleasant and dehumanising labels. Most people have a clear, shared image of a homeless person in their heads, and these images are broadly similar. But the things we see and use to create this image are just the tip of the iceberg,’ says Viktoria Zarieva. ‘In reality, the problem is much bigger, but we don’t talk about it. It’s easier to say “it’s their own faut—they haven’t tried to get a job” than to try to understand the real causes.’
The creators of the project say that it reinterprets the standard narratives surrounding volunteering in general and volunteering with homeless people in particular. They note that what they are doing is not social advertising; they are trying to honestly tell people in as much detail as possible about volunteering and homelessness.
HSE University is known for its active extracurricular life. There are many student organisations at the university, so everyone can find something for themselves. Anna Lulikyan, fourth-year bachelor student in Sociology, told the HSE News Service about the Best Buddies HSE volunteer club.
HSE University researchers together with colleagues from Erasmus University in Rotterdam and the University of Pennsylvania examined the determinants of episodic volunteer satisfaction and its impact on the motivation to continue volunteering.
HSE Rector Nikita Anisimov met representatives of the HSE Situation Centre to discuss the results of its volunteers’ efforts. The meeting focused on new forms of support and the problems faced by students.
Researchers from HSE University Compare Motivations of Volunteers at Winter Olympics in Sochi and Beijing
The Sochi 2014 Olympics volunteer programme involved 25,000 people. It was the first such volunteer project in Russia and was organised with support from the government, educational institutions and non-profit organizations.
HSE University Student Development Office held its traditional Charity Xmas festival from December 1th to 5th. The event was open to HSE University students, staff and graduates, and anybody else who wished to attend. This year for the first time, it was online, but nonetheless brought together a large number of guests and speakers. The HSE News Service spoke about volunteering and charity in the Coronavirus era.
On March 18, the Older Generation Support Centre opened at HSE University. HSE News Service continues to interview students and employees of the university who are helping senior citizens through the difficulties of self-isolation by delivering medicine and food, sharing useful information, and holding online classes. Today, volunteers who teach foreign languages to pensioners speak about how they have become volunteers.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which was announced in March, is not winding down anytime soon. The coronavirus is especially dangerous for senior citizens. Due to the threat of infection, older Muscovites are spending their days in self-isolation. But many HSE students are working to ensure Moscow’s elderly don’t get too lonely by communicating with them remotely.
HSE volunteers together with the HSE Theatre have held a New Year event for the children and grandchildren of the university staff and students of the ‘Pokrovsky Kvartal’ school, where children with disabilities also study.
In honour of International Volunteer Day, which was celebrated on December 6, HSE News Service spoke with HSE student organization leaders about their volunteer work. It turns out that HSE students are very active members of their communities: from painting with children in local orphanages to helping out at animal shelters, students participate in a wide range of volunteer efforts—and have fun while doing it.
A New Year's fair, information about non-commercial organisations, masterclasses, lectures and an obstacle demonstration with a guide dog: just some of the events that occurred as part of HSE’s contribution to the International Day of Charity, which took place at HSE Central atrium on 11 Pokrovsky Boulevard.