NGO Bethel’s Centre of Pastoral Care was established on January 1, 2000. The organisation was founded by the Bethel’s Congregation of EELC in Tallinn which has been helping risk group children and families since year 1997, and also by the NPO Social Rehabilitation Centre, the NPO Association of Support for Crime Victims “Victim Support” and the EELC Centre for Work with Criminals. The Social Centre is dealing with the population having lower income and primarily speaking other languages, by socialising such people into the society of Estonia and offering them moral and material support. The work of Bethel’s Centre of Pastoral Care is primarily orientated towards risk group children and youth, directing them back into studies and involving them into socially accepted activities. The main goals are decreasing poverty and exclusion and preventing crime. Today there is a substitute home and a day care centre in the church, visited regularly by ca 20 children from Monday to Saturday. Additionally, 100 families with children and low income are regularly supported by us.
The vision of the Social Centre is a healthy and safe society where the church has a clear role and position for carrying out its task. The church is a social, serving and guiding entity already by its nature. The special youth work at Bethel’s started in year 1997 by voluntary activities of congregation members with youth spending their time on streets and often living in abandoned buildings and garages, adopting an anti-social way of living and being dangerous to themselves and others.
How we can help
The Bethel’s Centre of Pastoral Care offers the following solutions to problems of children and youth from low income and risk group families:
- Providing a daily hot lunch and if necessary and possible then helping the family with groceries;
- Help with getting footwear, clothes and school supplies;
- Organising camps, hikes and other sports and cultural events, directing into training groups and hobby clubs;
- In certain cases paying a scholarship to youth who are motivated to obtain an education but lack sufficient support from home;
- Allowing motivated children and youth to live in the Social Centre, if their home situation doesn’t allow or doesn’t support obtaining an education. The prerequisite for this is a wish and readiness to continue education;
- Advice for youth having dropped out of school or being in risk of dropping out, in order for them to return to school, as a network activity together with the family, the school and the social welfare department;
- Providing a temporary living space in the Bethel’s Centre while the parent is e.g. hospitalised or imprisoned;
- The church has repeatedly provided short-term living space for families having lost their own living place (1-2 months);
- Directing substance-abusing youth into the drug withdrawal ward of the Tallinn Children’s Hospital and later cooperation with the drug withdrawal ward (directing to tests, network activity with the family, the school, the child welfare service, physicians and psychologists);
- Regular follow-up tutoring and private tutoring;
- Providing use of a washing machine, a shower and a sauna;
- Providing use of day care centre facilities (computer use, Internet connectivity, table tennis, carom, etc.);
- If possible then a support person is found for the youth and in many cases this has proved to be of great help in shaping the youth to become an independently coping citizen;
- Teaching Estonian to youth speaking another language;
- If the parents lack material means for supporting the youth upon obtaining an education but they have a wish and social skills necessary for that, then in several cases we have been able to find a private person or an organisation who has supported the family by material means;
- Expanding the horizon of youth and teaching them foreign languages via an experience of communicating with youth from other countries. Organising camps and trips to other European countries (Norway, Finland, Sweden, Germany).