Support House “Brīvupes”

June 5, 2024

Support House “Brīvupes” in Latgale, Balvi region

Family and child support services – Canisterapy, Montessori classes and other rehabilitation and developmental services not available in the immediate area.

Brīvupes Tutinava, Balvi, Kubulu parish, LV-4501

+371 28330904

Canisterapy, Montessori pedagogy, warm grain classes, audiologist and even a bed with vibroacoustic massage. Support House “Brīvupes” in Latgale brings all this together in one place, providing rehabilitation services and development-enhancing activities for children from different social groups, as well as their parents. The idea behind such a wide offer is simple – to bring the children to a pleasant place where they can participate in various activities in a familiar environment, changing only the specialists who work with them.

There’s also a guesthouse-like lounge, that you can book on, for mums and dads to relax while their child is in class, or simply to recharge for a fresh start.

Ingrīda Supe, the manager of the social enterprise, admits that she would like the offer to be even wider, because each new case complements the previous one, allowing them to provide more and more comprehensive help to everyone who has found their way to “Brīvupes” in their particular situation. Thus, an audiologist has already come to “Brīvupes”, and now a music therapist is also being sought.

The plan is to develop support for parents who are often simply very tired from everyday stressful situations. With that in mind, for example, a specific bed has just been purchased, which, based on the principles of vibroacoustic massage, helps to relax and regain balance. Adults have a variety of workshops and masterclasses to participate such as gong meditation, there is enough of space for events and interest groups to share experiences, support each other and realise that they are not alone in their child’s problems. Ingrīda is also currently conducting a study on the benefits for parents of helping their child to develop.

But it all started with canisterapy, or more precisely – Samoyeds. 15 years ago, it was love at first sight for Ingrīda – when she saw a dog of this breed, she knew immediately that if she ever had a dog in her life, it would be one like this. For the next seven years, Ingrīda spent dreaming and researching everything she could about the breed. And the more she read, the more she realised that for a dog to be happy, it also needs a job. Samoyeds proved to be suitable for canisterapy, and the idea clicked – it resonated with Ingrīda’s own feelings that a dog should not be selfishly kept to herself but shared to help others.

Now Dora is eight years old, she actively participates in the classes, helping children together with Ingrīda, and has welcomed a colleague – Sani, who now works at “Brīvupes”.

Nothing happens according to the same pattern – each clients’ problem is very different, solutions and approaches are different too, so Ingrīda is always learning, finding something new. She has also gained experience – in helping children with autism spectrum disorders, selective mutism, etc.

Ingrīda has a teaching background and has worked in a library for a long time. After learning canisterapy, she gradually became a full-time worker in her own enterprise and does not regret this choice for a moment. In addition, her previous education has now proved to be a very useful basis for further studies – she has also studied Montessori pedagogy and is currently studying social rehabilitation.

She came up with the idea of starting her own business when she realised that she needed a base, and her family home turned out to be ideal for this purpose, as well as cleaning up and restoring another “corner” of Latgale.

When asked about her plans for the future, Ingrīda says: “Ideas come naturally, the main thing is to let them mature.”

Working in a health centre as a canisterapy specialist would certainly be easier than building your own business from scratch – it takes courage, and in this case it could not be undertaken by someone who is just crunching numbers. She has travelled to Cēsis and Alūksne to work as a specialist, and it would have been more cost-effective for her to build her own business in the city, but the peaceful environment is also important in “Brīvupes”, which is healing in itself, and it would have been impossible to create one in a more populated area. This is also one of the reasons for the social enterprise status, as there are no equivalent services elsewhere in the region.

 “I work with a sense of mission, purpose and overarching goal. This place has a social purpose – so parents can get services closer to where they live. Our people deserve a place like this, so they don’t have to travel a hundred kilometres, spend a whole day on the road. They deserve it to be closer!

I even had a situation where two children came in and said quietly: “You know what I like best? When you come in here, it smells like this!” Then I realised that I have done everything to make sure that the children here are healed not only by the classes, but also by the environment.”

The social enterprise status gave a good start for setting up the support house, filling it with content, which was important to Ingrīda – so that the children would immediately have materials to work with. But now Ingrīda also appreciates being part of the social enterprise community in another way – it is very satisfying to know that she can work with others who are involved in business for different social causes. “It immediately feels like it’s your own!” Ingrīda emphasises and admits that, of course, a social enterprise has to be able to make a profit, but without such a social cause she would not be able to work. Also, the example of other companies helps to overcome difficulties, because you can see that someone has managed with a similar goal, continues to work and has proved that it can be sustainable.