It has been nearly 25 years of the Community Outreach Program of ISST. It was in 1984 that the Central Social Welfare Board started supporting the Family Counselling Centre that had been running voluntarily since a few years by ISST. In the late 90s, the counseling work was reoriented to include women who were facing crises being part of the ‘family’. Soon the women from the community started highlighting the issues they were facing due to the lack of proper public infrastructure (roads, public toilets, PDS System). The field teams responded and were aided by the Right to Information Act and collective action by women, which then articulated the role of COP as ‘Building the spirit of citizenship’. Subsequently, the center’s work on public accountability, running a Gender Resource Centre, and mobilizing domestic workers strengthened their bond with the community.
The rising need from the community to provide educational support to the children led to the establishment of the Saathi Centre in 2006 with the support of the Kalyanpuri Police Station. They provided the space that was developed as a safe learning environment for after-school hours. On average, each year, 250 -300 children participate in various programs. A separate space for Adolescents was created around 2017 called the Yuva (Young) Saathi Centre.
While there is no escape from supporting children in reaching their age-appropriate learning levels, the main focus of both centers is to focus on socio-emotional learning (SEL) needs. Thus activity-based learning, providing opportunities for creative expression through theatre, songs, stories, and poetry, forms the core of what the team offers to children and adolescents. An active link with the community remains the Help Desk, which is operated at both Centres to provide guidance on accessing entitlements and making referrals to appropriate services.
All these activities at Saathi and Yuva Saathi center are planned keeping in mind the Gender Transformative Approach.
Apart from the above mentioned programmatic activities, the centers also provides other resources in the form of
Responding to the needs of the community, the team offers a variety of services at the help desk such as Filing RTI, information on admissions to schools and colleges,helping in filling forms, information on vaccinations, counseling on social, emotional & economic well-being.
The ISST Saathi Centre has been hosting a community library for children, adolescents, women and other members of the community which is being used by them.