Career of good deeds: The history and prospects of social work

Career of good deeds: The history and prospects of social work
Almost 47,000 social workers tend to Muscovites’ social needs. 8 June is their professional holiday. has prepared a story about the specifics of this anything but simple work.

On 8 June, Russia marks Social Worker’s Day. The date was selected because on 8 June 1701 Peter the Great issued a decree On Allocating Housing Facilities for the Poor, the Sick and the Elderly at House Churches of the Holy Patriarchy. The document marked the beginning of the state social protection system.

The first Committee for Social Welfare and Assistance to Pensioners and People with Disabilities was established in Moscow in 1991. One year later, war veterans started receiving additional support.

Officially, the job of a social worker was established in our country only 25 years ago. Back then, there were neither professionals with the required qualifications and experience nor instructors in the industry. Practices were developed along with the publication of teaching aids and reference books for those who wanted to master a new occupation.

Thirty-four social service centres were opened in 1993. Two years later, there were 600 more domiciliary service centres. By 2000, their number reached 1,200, with almost 140,000 people benefiting from their help.

Experience grew into formal requirements for social workers. In 2013, the Federal Law On the Basics of Social Services in the Russian Federation was adopted. Public organisations started monitoring the quality of social services. Currently, 171 organisations comply with management quality standards.

Do no harm

Regardless of specialisation, every social worker must have certain basic skills. First of all, he or she must be able to serve as a third party, a mediator between a person and the environment, between children and adults, or between a family and society. Social workers provide support while standing behind you as an informal leader, helper and advisor. They also cannot do without empathy and the ability to care about another’s problems.

A social worker’s task is to take care of other people and open up their potential. It is not merely support but also guidance and protection of their interests. Social workers notice difficult situations, report them to competent institutions and get officials to respond.

Social work is slowly becoming more than a job. It is a calling. Its main principle, however, remains the same: do no harm.

The Moscow Department of Labour and Social Protection currently includes 174 organisations. These are 11 district social protection directorates, 162 social protection agencies and 88 medical facilities, including 10 care homes for retired workers, 18 care homes for people with mental and neurological conditions, 29 child upbringing support centres, two social integration centres for minors, and seven family and childhood support centres. In addition, there are 74 mobile service centres, resource centres for people with disabilities and rehabilitation centres.

All these organisations employ 46,945 people. This year, additional bonuses will be paid to social workers and teachers working with orphans and children deprived of parental care.

Statistically, more than 96 percent of staff of the district social protection directorates have a university degree. During the first quarter of 2017, the city government’s Moscow City University of Management trained 310 social workers. Another 862 workers took professional development courses at the Institute of Professional Development in Social Work. Some 140 managers and professionals sat for qualification exams at the same institutions.


Social support is a priority of the city government. More than 50 percent of the city budget is spent on social needs. Moscow has an extensive network of agencies that provide help to families, children, seniors and the disabled as well as homeless people.

Year after year, social services become better targeted, more accessible and higher quality.

Social services focus on families. There are programmes in the city that provide assistance and rehabilitation to children with disabilities and support to family projects, as well as that help develop mutual assistance and improve inter-agency interaction. The barrier-free environment is expanding.

As of the end of 2016, the average life expectancy in Moscow exceeded 77 years and reached 77.1 years. It is three years longer than in 2010. The average life expectancy across Russia is 72 years.

The average life expectancy in Moscow may top 80 years in the future through technological advances and constant monitoring of public health.