Garden project gets graffiti makeover

Earlier this month, a group of nine enthusiastic young people from Dost were joined by a professional graffiti artist from Paintshop Studio, who helped them to realise their vision of a graffiti mural for the garden walls.

We were lucky enough to have a dry afternoon despite a run of rainy days beforehand, so apart from the graffiti workshop, we were able to get a lot done. Following on from the work we did in February and over the Easter break, we finished the path edgings and planting and completed the willow wall we have been working on. We managed to get all of this done with a little help from your friends Claire and Marlon from London Youth

The graffiti workshop went well, with the young people coming up with ideas beforehand of what they wanted to see, after which they were let loose with the paint (closely supervised by Paintshop Studio) and they created a piece of artwork that represents friendship… The meaning of Dost.

Newham CAHMS were impressed with our efforts, saying that it looked great and the boards were admired on twitter as we gave our followers a sneak preview, with Zinnia Community Enterprise saying ‘I want one!’

We’ll be back in the garden over the coming months and aim to complete this project in time for summer. For up to the minute news about this, and to find out what else we’ve been doing, remember you you can follow us on twitter!


Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Dear Friends,

After a very difficult year and seemingly endless struggle for funding Dost has just received an unsolicited donation from Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund for £28,600. This donation alongside recent grants from City Bridge Trust, Tudor Trust and the support from Trinity Centre ensures Dost’s valuable service continues for another 3 years.

After 13 years of leading Dost I will soon be handing over to Dr Helena Kaliniecka who joins the team as Service Manager from 22nd April 2013. I will continue to support Dost, I’m starting my training for the Race for Life over the summer and of course will be fundraising for Dost!

Finally, a massive thank you to all the amazing young people that I’ve worked with who’ve taught me more than I could’ve imagined possible; to the Dost staff, students and volunteers; to colleagues across our many partnerships, Trinity staff and Trustees. And a very special thank you to Isky Osman, Trinity Chief Executive and Paul Chelliah, Trinity Operations Director who have helped grow Dost from the ground up, supported us throughout and ensured that we survived this bleakest winter.

Good luck to everyone at Dost and Trinity Centre.  See you soon!


Dost – No-one can put us down

This poster – by London Youth – needs little introduction. Navjot says it all (click to enlarge):

London Youth said that it bought a tear to their eyes – ours too! Thanks Navjot for the kind words and to Emma Kosmin at London Youth for the poster.

Dost in ICAN film debut

Earlier this year, Jeba and Christine from Dost made their film debut alongside Dost’s Youth Work Programme Manager Marian Spiers, in a short film for ICAN, The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

ICAN is s a global campaign coalition, which works to mobilise people across the globe to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate and support negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. This campaign brings together humanitarian, environmental, human rights, peace and development organizations in over 60 countries and supporter include anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Yoko Ono and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams.

We lent our support by providing extras for a short film, which was shown on the big screen to more than 500 international campaigners at the ICAN civil society forum in Oslo, ahead of the Government Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo on 4 and 5 March.

Watch the video now on ICAN’s website.


Getting going on our Garden project

Last month, a team of young people from Dost got together during the half term week to get to work on our Growing Minds garden project, funded by Groundwork, in Newham, East London.

Following the design workshop in January, everyone was keen to get down to the garden and start realising the teams’ vision of this community garden. Despite weather being cold enough to keep many of us indoors, a good team of young people turned up and worked together to transform the garden.

How the garden looked before!

Over the three days, we cleared the space – which was a day’s work in itself! – weaved a willow wall, planted fruit trees and strawberries and created a low flower bed, in which we will be planting seasonal vegetables.

Weaving the wall
Building the flowerbed


The (half!) finished wall
Planting strawberries


Despite some grumbles about the cold, the team really enjoyed the time spent in the garden and worked well together to make a real difference. In just three days,  we got a great deal of work done.

‘Am I enjoying it? Yeah. It’s something different.’

‘It’s cold! But it’s something to do. I was here yesterday too, and the day before. It’s sort of fun’

You can see more pictures of what we’ve done so far over at our Flickr account. There is still a lot more to do and we will be heading back during the Easter break to finish up, and add some original graffiti artwork to hang on the garden walls. Watch this space for the next update and some ‘after’ pictures!


A place of their own – on belonging beyond borders

Over the past few months, Dost’s Child and Adolescent mental Health Services (CAMHS) Practitioner Jessica Muir has been presenting her research, ‘Belonging Beyond Borders,’ to the Tavistock Clinic’s Refugee Forum and students at University Campus Suffolk. This has provided an opportunity to share Dost’s approach to working with refugees with other organisations.  The presentations have led to some interesting discussions and debates about what we need to feel at home and what factors might prevent young refugees from feeling settled in the new communities that they find themselves in.

It was through working with young people at Dost that Jessica first became interested in the impact that spaces and places can have on the psychological experience of young unaccompanied refugees. There was little previous research in this area, the focus having been in other, more cognitive areas. Knowing the impact that location can have on mental wellbeing, Jessica decided to investigate further. For this study, she spoke to young men between the ages of 19 and 23, who had arrived in the UK less than five years ago. All of the young men were from Iraq and Afghanistan. The majority of unaccompanied migrants arriving in the UK at the present time are from Afghanistan.*The interviews raised a number of issues:

For example, discussions about the Home Office and Job Centre revealed the negative attitudes that young refugees encounter in bureaucratic spaces:

Because you know, especially the Home Office, you know, you don’t have leave to remain you know, they, they look at you different to other people, that time. Job Centre is, it depends on the person, helping you, talking to you… Some of them it’s like they think, she or her or him, they think money in their pocket or his pocket to you, they think like that. …They think, they think they are giving money from their pocket… You know what I mean?

In contrast, when the interviewees spoke about places in which they feel comfortable, this emphasised the positive effect of community spaces where they can make friends and share their stories:

…Most of them, is in the same situation, so you know you are not alone, you’re not the only one on that boat, you got people that are there, that have got the same problem that you’ve got, that’s what makes it good as well… You know, it makes it interesting, it’s not like I’m going there and I’m the only one to come from Iraq travelling and stuff, I’m not the only one who has a difficult story, it’s everyone there…

The research confirmed that having a space in which they feel comfortable has a direct and positive impact on the mental wellbeing of displaced young people. This suggests that therapeutic work with young refugees may need to move beyond traditional, clinical settings and encompass community initiatives. If you would like further information about this research, please contact Jessica.


*Source: Home Office Statistics released February 2013


Dost headlines in Newham

Earlier this month, a team of young people from Dost presented their plans to improve the borough of Newham and work with other groups within London.

This presentation was part of Athan 31, a London-wide programme developed by London Youth, to empower young people to make a difference to their local community.

The Newham Recorder covered our Athan 31 panel meeting and we made the headlines! You can read the article on their website.

Dost has been part of Athan 31 since it began in June 2012. Our young people have enjoyed planning and getting involved in sessions as part of the panel, which has helped them to develop new skills. Since July, the young people have completed the first two stages of the project: ‘My Group’ and ‘My Club.’ This has meant that so far, they have been able to plan projects that benefit them and their Youth Club.

Our young people are now on the ‘My Community’ stage of the process, which will be enable them to work with other local groups on projects that will benefit  the wider community.  Our upcoming Garden Grafitti Project is funded by Athan 31.


Dost youth fill up on ‘Feast’

Recently a group of young people from Dost headed to the Young Vic Theatre at Waterloo, to see new Yoruba music and dance show, Feast.

The story centres around three sisters separated by a mischievous trickster whose greatest pleasure comes from creating chaos. The audience follow them on their journey across continents and centuries in an effort to be reunited.

Described by the Young Vic theatre as “A once-in-a-lifetime production that celebrates the world’s most spirited culture,” the show certainly lived up to its promise.

It was colourful, lively, full of history, music and singing, culture and laughs.

Here’s what the young people had to say afterwards:

“It was great!”

“It’s too sweet!”

“My days been good, ‘cause I have been shooked!”

“Very cultural – showed what they do, what they believe etc.”

“I loved the music, very enjoyable for me.  Sitting right at the front alone, I felt the full force of music, good to have that experience.”

“…a man dancing in his red pants on the table!”

Feast is on at the Young Vic theatre until 23 February and tickets are still available.  We highly recommend it!

Growing Minds Garden Project Launched

Last Tuesday, Dost, alongside Newham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), launched a new environmental project. This spring, we will be creating a garden at Newham Child and Family Consultation Service (CFCS) on Barking Road.

The positive effect that green spaces can have on mental health have been well documented and we’re excited to be part of the team creating this valuable community garden, which will benefit the children/ young people and their families, as well as all those who work at CFCS.

The project, which we will begin work on in the next month, has been made possible thanks to funding from Groundwork’s Transform/Edible East project.

‘Transform,’ a core part of the London 2012 Changing Places Inspire Programme, is an initiative that supports host boroughs to secure lasting social and environmental benefits as a legacy of the Games. Edible East helps community groups in East London who wish to transform derelict land into a green space or community garden with an emphasis on environmental responsibility, which is exactly what we’re doing.

A team of young people from Dost have already taken part in a design workshop for the garden, about what they would like to include. The aim is to create a calm space with seating areas, sensory herbs and plants and elements of wildlife gardening/recycling. The team agreed on the main themes:

  • A living-willow fence/archway at the very end of the garden to cover the metal fence that backs on to the social club
  • Accessible paths extending from the patio area to the back of the garden
  • Raised beds for herbs and fruit trees
  • A compost bin and rainwater-harvesting butt
  • Two or three seating areas spaced throughout the garden for meetings, sessions, waiting and taking a break
  • Paintings/graffiti pictures on removable boards to brighten up the big bare walls.

The graffiti project will be funded by London Youth’s Athan 31 project as part of the community involvement scheme.

We’ll be getting started during the February half term, and aim to complete the work during the Easter break. Everyone is really looking forward to getting involved and giving something back to the community.

We will keep you updated on our progress so look out for an update here after the February half term!

For all the latest news from Dost, remember you can follow us on twitter too!

Dost to give oral evidence to inquiry into human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched an inquiry into the human rights of unaccompanied migrant children and young people in the UK, with a particular focus on those who are seeking asylum or have been the victims of trafficking.  Public hearings have been held in November and December 2012 with witnesses from the Refugee Council, UNHCR, UNICEF, The Children’s Society, Children’s Commissioners for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Immigration Legal Practitioners Association (ILPA), Kathleen Marshall, Migrant & Refugee Children’s Legal Unit (MiCLU).  The Committee aims to report to both Houses, with recommendations, no later than Easter 2013.

Yesim Deveci, Founder/Director will be giving oral evidence to the committee on Tuesday 22nd January 2013, Commitee Room 4A.


At 2.20 pm:

  • Jim Wade, Senior Research Fellow, University of York
  • Vaughan Jones, Chief Executive, Praxis Community Projects
  • Yesim Deveci, Dost Centre for Young Refugees and Migrants
  • John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development, British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)

At 3.15 pm

  • Philip Ishola, Association of Directors of Childrens’ Services (ADCS)
  • Andrew Ireland, Corporate Director for Families and Social Care, Kent County Council
  • Janet Patrick, Strategic Advisor for Unaccompanied Minors, Croydon Council
  • Richard Ross, Education and Children’s Services Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

The above meeting is open to members of the public.  Find out more