Problem: Children aged between 6 and 16 from multi problem families face severe stress caused by poverty, mental health, domestic violence, addiction, family separation or health problems.
Solution: A community based youth centre that provides activities, peer-support and psychological health services.
Goals and objectives: To provide children from multi-problem families with a safe space, where they can enjoy interaction with peers and adults in leisure and learning activities, to enhance their psychological well-being and strengthen their resilience.
Implementation: The Nest Centre is an innovative model for after-school Centres for children from multi-problem backgrounds. Since 2008, 14 centres have been established in small cities across Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Nest Centre provides a home away from home to many children.
It is a safe space where children can go after school and on weekends and holidays, to find some refuge from potentially harmful family conditions. At the heart of these Centres are the “Living Room” – equipped with comfortable chairs and sofas, bookshelves and a television. Children can relax, socialise, read, or just hang out.
These Centres focus on building resilience, increase child engagement and participation, and encourage mutual learning and support. The children are encouraged to participate in running the Centres and design participatory activities, including providing support to their peers who might be facing various challenges.
On average children attend the Nest Centre for 2 to 3 years.
Individual monitoring and direct work with children. Children can be referred by teachers, social workers, family doctors, and by parents and children themselves. Admissions are based on an intake and checklist. An individual action plan is then carefully prepared for each accept child in which specific activities iterated.
The Nest Centre is not suitable for children with severe psychological problems, as the Centre is only equipped to cater to mild psychological health problems.
The Centres are best suited for small towns and rural environments, because community support and embeddedness are important conditions for positive impact. Community meetings involving parents, school directors, teachers, social workers and police are organised in support of the effective running of the Centres. Volunteers include family members and larger community.
Budget: Initially financed by Stichting Kinderpostzegals and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 3 years. Operating costs for a Centre costs around 25 thousand euros per year, while initial investments costed about 10 thousand euros. Local authorities contribute around 5 thousand euros of in-kind contributions. Most Nest Centres now run on their own with locally mobilised resources.
Achievements: The Centre provides a great source of support to troubled children and has been attributed to increased self-esteem and control over their lives and destinies.