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Online Tours of Rostov-on-Don for the Elderly and People with Disabilities

A new charitable project, “Lighthouse in Joy”, has been launched in Rostov-on-Don. In partnership with Center-invest Bank, the Lighthouse Lecture Centre is providing livestreamed city tours for wards of the Old Age in Joy Foundation from across Russia.

The talks will be livestreamed twice a month. The first talk, an online tour of the Gorky Theatre by Rostov tour guide, Marina Natalyan, was held on 18 January.

“The main aim of the Lighthouse in Joy project is to entertain the elderly people who are living in care homes and whom it is really hard to visit, due to Covid restrictions,” says Ekaterina Semenova, founder of the Lighthouse Lecture Centre. “We aim to entertain and engage them, using the possibilities created by modern technology. Also, we hope that our online city tours will generate interest in Rostov-on-Don. Our city has wonderful architecture and a rich history, which we want to share.”

Center-invest Bank is the official partner of the project. “Center-invest Bank’s charitable projects are targeted in nature, as is demonstrated by our partnership with the Old Age in Joy Foundation,” says Natalia Alyabieva, head of PR at the bank. “Thanks to such projects we are able to do what we can to help and support people who due to their age and health conditions cannot leave the house. But in the modern world, physical constraints can be overcome: the unique online talks from Rostov-on-Don’s best tour guides will help the Foundation’s wards feel connected and involved. We wholeheartedly agree with the main idea behind the joint project, that we should be a considerate and responsible generation, who care about older people.”

In addition to online tours of famous places in Rostov-on-Don, a concert lecture dedicated to popular songs is planned, as requested by the wards of the Foundation.

“In the current situation, people living in care homes are really lacking in company and contact with the outside world,” says Taisiya Ermolenko, coordinator of the Old Age in Joy’s video volunteering project. “Thanks to the online events held for us by the Lighthouse Lecture Centre, wards of the Foundation can travel without getting up from their sofa, they can discover interesting facts, and also, unlike with television, they can chat to the person giving the talk, and ask them questions. Thanks to modern technology, distance is not preventing our volunteers from giving the gift of joy to our wards.”

Each talk takes on average one month to prepare. All of the talks are given by people who are experts in their field, with either a university degree or extensive experience. They are charismatic, sociable and passionate about sharing knowledge.

Old Age in Joy is a Russian non-governmental charitable foundation that provides assistance to people with disabilities and the elderly who are living in care homes. It was established as a group of volunteers in 2006, and as a Foundation in 2011. The Foundation works with over 150 care homes and institutions in 25 Russian regions. It purchases food and medication, provides essential care, and runs leisure activities. It also helps to maintain the buildings. The Foundation’s strategic aim is “to construct a system of assistance in Russia that will be available to every elderly person who finds themselves in difficult circumstances”.

Center-invest Bank is the ESG banking leader in Russia. For over 25 years Center-invest Bank has successfully run social, educational and charitable programmes encompassing six Russian regions. The bank’s corporate social responsibility activities include: programmes to improve financial literacy; support for youth, female and social entrepreneurship; assistance for the elderly, people with disabilities, and families living in difficult circumstances; cultural development and heritage preservation; environmental protection; and support for children’s sport. To date, over 410,000 people have participated in these projects.

Lighthouse Lecture Centre is a Rostov-based company organising public talks on culture and science. Since its establishment a year ago, it has held over 20 talks on painting, history, architecture, religion, philosophy, fashion, programming and music. The company works with Rostov-on-Don’s best tour guides. About 1,000 people have listened to its talks so far.