Peckham Settlement Stories:

Dream Believe Achieve

Dream Believe Achieve

Who are Dream Believe Achieve? 

Dream Believe Achieve was founded in 2014, by Ayhesha Thomas and Melissa Philip. Ayhesha and Melissa wanted to plug a gap in the support available to vulnerable young girls in South London, many the victims of domestic abuse and violence. Their slogan, ‘empowering minds’ sums up the aim of the organisation: to give disadvantaged young people a safe space to express themselves, build confidence, develop life and employability skills and nurture wellbeing, all whilst engaging with sensitive themes which may impact their lives.

Since 2014, the organisation has expanded to also support disadvantaged boys in the local area, and Dream Believe Achieve now run 6-week programmes in schools and 12-week programmes in community halls, as well as activity days during the school holidays. Their programmes are free and feature small group workshops and mentoring, with a focus on sharing information, advice and guidance about themes including abuse, mental health, gang violence and self-love, subjects which the young attendees may not actively discuss at school. The workshops focus on one theme at a time and are extremely interactive. Dream Believe Achieve gives young people a free and safe space to talk about the signs to look out for, how to respond to situations, who to speak to if they are affected and other practical takeaways relating to each theme. By the end of the programme, young attendees are truly empowered and better placed to face challenges.


Why did Dream Believe Achieve apply for a Peckham Settlement grant? 

Dream Believe Achieve initially applied to the Peckham Settlement’s Emergency Fund in June 2020, to gain assistance with delivering their in-person Girls Support Group through the COVID pandemic. Subsequent Peckham Settlement grants have been used by Dream Believe Achieve to help in their expansion across the local area.


What impact have Peckham Settlement grants had? 

In June 2020, Dream Believe Achieve used the Peckham Settlement Emergency fund to purchase personal protection equipment (PPE). This allowed them to deliver in-person support to the most vulnerable young girls in the group. Without this PPE, the support group would have had to remain virtual. Many of the vulnerable girls were extremely isolated during the lockdowns and so hugely benefited from the face-to-face contact offered through the programme. Ultimately, it was the Peckham Settlement grant which kept this vital service going through those very turbulent times.

Since 2020, Dream Believe Achieve has used further grants from the Peckham Settlement to drive their expansion, building deeper links with local schools, such as Harris Academy Peckham, where they now support 45 young people with low confidence and mental health challenges. These more recent Peckham Settlement grants have enabled Dream Believe Achieve to extend their workshops into the more established 6- and 12-week programmes. Schools see the programmes as a core service for the most vulnerable young people in their communities, and through their 6-week programmes they’ve established a referral system with schools, so schools can easily put forward the pupils who will benefit the most from attending.


What impact do Dream Believe Achieve have on young people in Peckham?

Dream Believe Achieve carry out impact monitoring at the end of every project they deliver, to understand how their programmes benefit young people, and identify where they can develop them further. This monitoring shows that the young peoples’ self-confidence increases significantly over the course of a programme, and that they foster a deeper understanding of coping tools, and an increased awareness of mental health, healthy relationships, setting boundaries, peer pressure and abuse. In addition to this, there’s evidence of the young people developing important life and employability skills, meaning they finish a programme more confident than when they started.


Thoughts on Peckham in the future

Dream Believe Achieve see Peckham evolving into a safer place, with increased opportunities for young people, as a result of schools and organisations working more closely together. The partnership between Dream Believe Achieve and Harris Academy Peckham is a great example of this in action, and it is made possible in no insignificant part, by grants from the Peckham Settlement.


How can people follow Dream Believe Achieve / stay in touch?

As an organisation working with young people, Dream Believe Achieve are very active on Instagram. Check them out @empoweringmindsDBA, where they advertise their upcoming workshops and post motivational quotes and practical tips for their online community.


Interview by Peter Vaughan-Fowler