Recent research published by the University of East London (UeL) describes Dost as having a ‘transformative positive impact’ on the lives of the young people we work with.
The research was based on a series of interviews that took place with Dost young people in 2013 and aimed to report on benefits and drawbacks of the services we provide. The questions centred around four key areas: The nature of the lived experience of the young people using our services, our response to this experience and the positive nature of our culture, evidence of the transformative impact of our work and gaps or deficits in our services.
Typical responses from our young people, when asked to sum up our services, included:
“I have no family. They are my family.”
“This is a home away from home. They embrace anybody.”
“If it wasn’t for X, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I think of her as a mum – like a second mum.”
The vast majority referred to Dost as being ‘like family’ and the importance of friendship was a theme throughout all of the interviews. This is a result of the Dost approach, which is the very foundation of who we are and how we came to be (‘Dost’ means friend in several languages).
The report references our holistic, relationship –based model, as ‘a 360° wrap-around, child centered approach and in its conclusion, recommends that we further define this model and seek to disseminate it.
Dost continues to be flexible in responding to young people’s needs through providing drop-in sessions and taking a holistic approach when assessing and addressing issues that are presented during casework, and supporting long lasting friendships through the active youth programme.
We are pushing the 360° model forward with the development of new assessment and evaluation tools in collaboration with our young people. This will help us to add more structure to our work, putting each young person at the centre when identifying issues and finding individual solutions for them. It will also help us to better understand the varying needs of different migrant populations and to evaluate the services we provide. We continue to seek volunteers to help us provide English language support.
Dost Service Manager Helena Kaliniecka says, “We are working hard to refine and strengthen the Dost 360° approach through exploring evaluation tools, structuring and developing casework procedures, and working towards the Silver Quality Mark for the youth programme. The funding climate continues to be harsh and we are grateful to all of our supporters for helping us to continue providing and developing the culture and provisions that this research has identified as so important to the young people.”