ThePromise was established in 2003 to support children with disabilities in Russia, both in the  state institutional care system and those living at home with their families in the community.

Our Vision is a world where children with disabilities can achieve the best possible quality of life.

Our Purpose is to improve the lives of disabled children in Russia and neighbouring countries. We do this by promoting a system of support for disabled children called Portage in partnership with families and carers and by encouraging a more positive attitude to disability.

Our Values:

  • The right of all children to lead a fulfilling life
  • The right of people to determine and develop their own future
  • All children should be valued for their unique qualities
  • Working in partnership
Sofia Enjoying Messy Play Oct

Our Story

Inspired by the promise made to her profoundly disabled daughter Ellie just before she died, Sarah and a friend Iona Sutherland worked as volunteers in an orphanage in Russia during the summer of 2002.

The children they cared for left an indelible mark on both of them. Each child was struggling to survive in a system overwhelmed by ever-increasing numbers. Some of them will make it through this jungle. A handful may even come out with a basic education. But for most, and particularly for those with special needs, the future is bleak.

While they were there, Sarah and Iona silently promised these children that they would do whatever they could to improve their chances of a real future. A promise that Ellie’s cherished life would never have been in vain and that other hidden, silenced children in the world would be heard, celebrated and supported.

ThePromise is a direct result of these loving promises. 

                          Sarah playing with children from Ryazan Baby Home in 2002

Sarah used an early intervention system of education with Ellie called Portage. This system was developed specifically for children with special needs.

In November 2002, the Director of the Baby Home orphanage in Ryazan agreed to a proposal presented by Sarah and Iona, to establish Portage there.

ThePromise was set up in 2003 to manage this programme. Once Portage had been successfully established within the Baby Home and people could see the amazing results ThePromise was asked to expand the project. 

After just 2 years Portage was introduced into an orphanage for older children in the village of Yelatma as well as a Community Portage service in Ryazan run in partnership with the Ryazan State University.

Since the success of the Ryazan Portage services ThePromise have worked to establish ways for Portage to be funded locally, within Russia.  Due to the powerful transformations seen within all services that have introduced Portage we have been able to work with many organisations, institutions and partner charities in Russia and neighbouring countries to spread Portage.

Due to the growing support and committment to disseminating Portage within Russia we are now able to focus our energies on supporting the training and mentoring of new Portage teams across Russia with our partners Diema's Dream.

Since 2017 we have been working in partnership with a Russian charity, Diemas Dream. By working together we can continue to overcome the increasing challenges of providing support to disabled children in a country such as Russia. Find out more by clicking here.

ThePromise are extremely lucky to have a dedicated board of five trustees; Sarah Settelen (Chair), Clare Nash (Secretary), Anne Warner (Treasurer), Jacqui Abraham and Vicki Brown, many of whom have helped shape and guide the work of ThePromise since the beginning.

We are also extrenely grateful to our Patrons - Barbara Flynn and Mollie White who have supported us in so many ways.

Click here to read an interview with Sarah to find out more about how the loss of her disabled daughter Ellie led to the founding of ThePromise. (published in You Magazine October 2007)

Click here for our Approved Annual Accounts 2018-19

Our policies are available by clicking on the links below:

ThePromise Safeguarding Policy & Procedures         

ThePromise Equality Policy                     

ThePromise Grievance Procedure                             

ThePromise Disciplinary Policy & Procedures

ThePromise Volunteering Policy

ThePromise Social Media Policy

ThePromise Data Protection Policy

ThePromise Data Breach Management Policy

ThePromise Data Retention Management Policy