It’s been a while since our last tea break and we’re parched now! You met our Service Manager Helena, who joined the team in April, last August and we took a tea break with our Youth Programme Manager Marian in September. This year we’ve had a few new team members join us! You can find out more about the whole team here. Next up for a tea break is Youth Worker Danny Smallwood, who has been with us since about July 2010, when he met some of Dost youth through his work with a charity in Hackney and liked them so much he volunteered at Dost and has been with us ever since! So pop the kettle on, make your preferred hot drink and get to know him a little better.
Chocolate Caramel Digestive, please
Yum! Ok, now down to the serious stuff…
How did you end up here and what was your first day like?
I was previously working for a charity in Hackney delivering bike maintenance sessions to young people and approached Marian to enquire if Dost young people would be interested in taking part. They were, and were very refreshingly enthusiastic about the programme, which involved them learning how to fix up bikes that had been donated to us by the local police force. All the young people managed to restore a bike to its former glory and were rewarded by being allowed to take the bike away.
I really enjoyed working with the young people from Dost and so volunteered to help out at Dost youth club sessions and this gradually progressed to me beginning work as a youth worker at Dost. My first day was so long ago I can’t really remember but it probably involved me winning a lot on the pool table and showing the young people up at table tennis, as I’m terribly good at both.
You’ve worked with children in Mexico. How does working in the UK compare?
They don’t speak Spanish so much. But other than that the children at Dost are pretty similar. The children I worked with in Mexico were extremely friendly and resourceful (playing football bare foot and with a ball that was at least 200 years old) and always enthusiastic about taking part in activities. And this is very much how the young people at Dost approach activities and also with a very positive attitude.
Tell us a bit about the work you do at Coram Children’s Legal Centre on the Migrant Children’s Project
The Migrant Children’s Project promotes the rights of migrant, asylum-seeking and refugee children and young people and works to ensure that they receive the protection and support they need. It provides one-to-one advice through an advice line and outreach advice work, a range of free resources and online information, and training to practitioners working with young refugees and migrants.My role is to support solicitors, provide this advice and conduct research for policy and advocacy work.
It’s an interesting environment to work in as I’ve learnt much about the law that affects the young people at Dost, which gives me a bit of insight into how complicated and daunting it must be for these young people.
My role at CCLC can often overlap with my role at Dost, as I’ve referred young people to solicitors who have since provided them with legal representation.
You’re studying for an MSc in Migration, Mobility and Development at SOAS. Tell us a bit about that.
I’ve been studying part-time for the last two years and been looking at the political economy of migration and its impact on host countries and countries where migrants originate from, the history of humanitarian and development aid and security issues in developing countries.
I’m currently writing my dissertation on a subject very close to the work Dost undertakes and looking at how and why young, unaccompanied children migrate to the UK and the economical, social and psychological impact this has on them.
And studying at SOAS is very special. It’s the (self proclaimed) “world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East” but also often parades camels around campus to raise awareness of aspects of camel cultures worldwide.
What do you like best about working with Dost youth?
Positive attitude and gratitude. I’ve worked in youth centres that have had fantastic facilities and equipment and the young people have still been unimpressed and unenthusiastic about activities. Yet whilst Dost lacks such fancy facilities and equipment the young people still find ways to enjoy themselves.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Cutting the grass at a sewage farm.
What’s the best/most exciting/most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you?
Well, other than working at Dost of course… It would have to be scoring the winning goal with a 30 yard free kick to seal the Northamptonshire Football League Cup… 19 years ago. I also met Jet, Lightning and Wolf from Gladiators.
Tell us something surprising about yourself.
My left leg is actually made of yoghurt.*