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Galina’s Visit 2016: Report
Galina Davidovich and Vera Zhuravleva arrived on the evening of Monday April 11th at London City Airport. They left us on the morning of Friday April 22nd.
Despite receiving confirmation of flight details only on March 22nd, and the intervention of school holidays from March 25th to April 10th, we were able to put together a reasonably full programme of visits and meetings, even though most of them were finalised only a day or two before taking place. Transport and additional translation were likewise arranged at quite short notice.
Galina had expressed particular interest in -
(a) learning more about the Portage system of care for disabled children;
(b) seeing the practical outworking of the UK’s policy of, wherever possible, including and integrating children with special and complex needs in mainstream schooling and society - a concept entirely new to Russia; and
(c) visiting centres that disabled children attend, and talking with the staff.
The final Timetable is attached. It may be seen that we managed:
(a) Portage: two meetings with professionals (County and charity), and a visit to a group for parents with very young children
(b) Inclusion: visits to three Nursery/Pre-schools, a village Primary School, a much larger urban Primary School, and a High School
(c) Specialist: a meeting with a portal body that funds and advertises providers, and thence to a provider; a visit to a group for parents with very young children, and a visit to each of Ipswich’s two special schools
Galina and Vera also toured Ipswich’s Christchurch Mansion, Lavenham’s Guildhall, and London by open-top bus. We had a meal with some of our Teamwork members, followed the tradition of Russian visitors here in going to the Teapot Pottery, and found time for shopping. David provided Galina with her first ever experience of a Protestant church, and took them to a Garden Centre (by request!) and on to Southwold.
Everybody was enormously helpful. Quite apart from the conversations, which Galina continuously enthused about, some substantial practical help has been offered in terms of providing training materials and the possibility of holding and staffing training sessions by Skype and even events in Leningradski Oblast.
Galina has since told us (via Masha) ‘how amazed and happy she is. She has never had such a wonderful and useful trip. (She) is so grateful to us for organising this programme. It was so full and incredibly interesting.’ Her email to us added ‘Thank you for your warm welcome .... I learned a lot’.
Many people contributed to the undoubted success of this visit, among them:
Portage: Christina Lewis, Merle Cattermole, Felicity Fryer, Pauline Purser, Jo Pritchard
Inclusion: Hilary Fulton, Karen Read, Laura Dickerson, Jackie Wright, Helen Birbeck, Rosemary Laflin, Steph (of B+B), Dave Lee-Allen, Jane Allen
Specialist: Steve Newman, Susan Phillips, Chris, Joe Bailey, Alison Stonham, Sarah Stott, Sandra Davy, Odran Doran
Transport: Ken Sheppard, John, Sarah Wilcox, Keith Raby, David Read, Charlie Mead; Michael Rowe (flights)
Translation: Helen (Elena) Warwick
Accommodation & catering: Sandy New, Rosie Wilcox
- and we record our gratitude to them all.