Now that you’ve met our new Service Manager, Helena, we thought it was about time we introduced the rest of the team so you could get to know us all a little better.
First up is Youth Programme Manager Marian Spiers, who manages the youth programme at Dost, running the youth club, organising residential trips for our young people and supervising all the sessional staff and volunteers who work with them. Marian is responsible for co-ordinating our Garden project for Newham CFCS (Child and Family Consultation Service), which was recently featured in the Newham mag!
So, grab a cup of your preferred hot (or cold!) beverage, put your feet up and meet Marian…
First things first… Tea or Coffee?
Strong, sweet tea or some juice please!
Always! Maybe a cake too!
Ooh me too! Now, down to the serious stuff…
How long have you been working at Dost?
I’ve been at Dost for over four years now….
How did you end up here/What was your first day like?
I ended up at Dost when I came back from an extended trip to India. I had been working in a school and orphanage there for about 10 months and came back to the UK to look for work. I couldn’t decide whether to stay in the UK or return to India so made a decision that if I found a job here that I really liked I would stay and the only job I applied for was at Dost… and here I am!
My first day was pretty full on… I started at lunch time and by 5pm I was running the Youth Club, meeting the staff, volunteers and young people… I was really surprised by the friendliness of the young people… By the second day I was running a four week, full time, summer programme for 30 kids so I was pretty much thrown in at the deep end!
What do you like best about working with Dost youth?
The thing I like best about working with the young people from Dost is the fact that they are so multi-cultural. They are also fun, open and willing to try new things and make the most of opportunities, accepting of others, kind and caring to each other and to the staff and volunteers and they are very diverse – from their ethnicity, to their ages, religions, gender, abilities and the languages they speak. I feel like working at Dost is like travelling without going anywhere! They are honestly the best group of young people I have ever worked with in over 25 years of doing Youth Work. I think the group is really unique and they are a joy to work with! I also love the fact that I am able to take part in so many fun activities with them and to share these experiences with them… To date, we have been on residentials to Scotland, Wales, Butlins, CentreParcs, Devon, Outdoor Education Centres, camping, sailing, on a barge and on so many trips and projects that include sports, art, cooking and the environment.
Tell us a bit about the community garden project you’ve been working on recently
Since January, we have working on the garden at Newham Child and Family Consultation Service (CFCS). We worked with Groundworks and one of their gardeners and Olivia (the Dost Youth Worker)to develop the garden and turn it from a derelict piece of land into a tranquil and peaceful space for the children and families that use CFCS to use for sessions with their therapists. The Dost young people who worked on the garden learned many new skills around gardening including carpentry, willow weaving and graffiti. They worked in all weathers to transform the garden into somewhere with strawberries, raspberries, fruit trees, vegetables and places to sit and relax. In July we held our Garden Project Launch to officially open the garden and many professionals from the NHS and staff from London Youth and other organisations came along to congratulate the young people on their hard work. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank to Groundwork and Athan 31 for the funding which made the garden project possible!
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
I’ve had plenty of pretty awful jobs! I travelled round the world for 10 years so did a lot of random jobs for no apparent reason! I worked as a window cleaner in North Cyprus, I worked as a meat pie packer in a factory (even although I’ve been a vegetarian since I was five!), I’ve been a runner for the worst hostel in Jerusalem – trying to convince travellers to stay in a hostel with no doors! I’ve worked as an English teacher in the Czech Republic with no books in the days before the internet… I’ve been a film extra in Egypt and there are various others!
What’s the best/most exciting/most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?
There are a lot of exciting things that have happened to me over the years… Not sure about the best… but some of the highlights would be: hitchhiking around the world on the back of trucks, in cars, boats, and even in a coffin once! Seeing so many amazing places around the world… Mountains, temples, deserts, beaches; meeting people from everywhere and getting to know them, learn about their way of life and live with them; having my own photography exhibitions and lots of other things that I can’t remember at the moment!
Tell us something surprising about yourself.
Mmmm…I’ve been diving with sharks in a ship wreck… I’ve looked after Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg on a film shoot… and I’ve lived with a family with 10 children in a double decker bus!
Read more about our work with Children and Young People to find out what support we provide. To keep in touch with Marian and find out what Dost’s young people have been up to, follow Youth_@_Dost on twitter.