Holly has been working in the DofE office since September on a part-time basis as Events Assistant. Holly came to us through an Employer Recruitment Incentive scheme run by Skills Development Scotland and Edinburgh Young Carers Project. Holly’s last day with us is 6th December, so we wanted to catch up with her before she goes.
How old are you?
16, nearly 17
Where are you from?
Muirhouse in Edinburgh
What did you do before you started with DofE Scotland?
I worked at Hotel Missoni and volunteered with Pilton Youth and Children’s Project and Muirhouse Youth Development Group working with the children.
Have you enjoyed working for DofE Scotland?
Yes I have. It was the first office I worked in. The people in the office are a good team and really friendly. I was a bit nervous before I started as I didn’t know what everyone would be like but on my first day Jamie and Pete came and shook my hand and made me feel really welcome.
What projects have you worked on here?
I worked a lot on getting things ready for the Conference by making delegate packs and things like that. I also helped with Gold Awards and getting the forms in and badges mailed. I helped with training feedback forms and making packs for Residentials. They were all quite good projects to work on. It was all new for me and I learned a lot.
What was your favourite part?
The Leaders Conference. It was really cool meeting all of the new people and learning all about the DofE. I really enjoyed getting involved in the workshops and hakka too.
And your least favourite part?
Trying to read people’s handwriting on the training feedback forms. Some of it we couldn’t read at all! I also found making the delegate boxes for the conference fiddly, I was glad when I’d done them all.
What have you learned from your placement?
I learned how to be more confident in myself and how to get on with others. I got to try a lot of new things and I found out I could do it. I’d like to say thank you to everyone in the DofE Scotland team for being so supportive, making me feel welcome and all the great banter. A special thank you to Katy and Sarah for teaching me easier ways to do Admin tasks and Alex for helping me with my Children 1st interview.
What are you up to next?
I am going to be an Administrative Assistant at Children 1st. I start that on Monday. I’m going to do my Bronze DofE too! I want to do all of my three levels.
I like that it’s possible to do anything in life if you believe in yourself and DofE helps you do that.
What's it like to volunteer with the DofE?
Thursday, 5th December is International Volunteer Day. We caught up with a couple of DofE volunteers to get their take on what it means to be a volunteer and why they volunteer for the DofE. Eleanor Burns is a young leader who has just started volunteering for City of Edinburgh Council. Anne Barclay on the other hand has been volunteering at Annan Academy since 2005. Here's their Q&A on why they love volunteering. If you would like to become a volunteer, get in touch via our Contacts page.
How long have you been volunteering for the DofE?
Eleanor: I started off volunteering in 2011 as a young leader within my school group as part of my Gold Award. I’ve recently started volunteering in an open group in Edinburgh and I’m a leader to a group of Silvers.
(Eleanor, right on her Gold Residential)
Anne: I started a small Award Group at Annan Academy in 2005 and it has been growing ever since (75 Bronze 27 Silver and 12 Gold enrolments this year)
(Anne with a DofE group on Annandale Way)
Why did you start volunteering with DofE?
Eleanor: I really enjoyed doing my own DofE and would like to give young people the chance to gain the benefits from the award like I did. I also feel in debt to the amount of time and effort my own leader put in to getting me through my award so it would be good to give something back.
Anne: I worked in the civil service, the private sector and financial services before doing an Open University degree and starting to teach. I learned a great deal from each of them; skills that help my teaching. Young people don't always get the opportunity to try a broad range of "non-school" experiences to enhance their development and social skills, but DofE offers that. The DofE is a great experience of itself, but we all know the 'added value' it brings to a CV or university application. When I began my teaching career, I asked at interview if there was a school DofE group because I wanted to get involved. There wasn't, but the Headteacher was keen for one to be set up: I think DofE may even have helped me get my first teaching post!
What was your involvement with DofE before you started volunteering?
Eleanor: I completed my Bronze, Silver and Gold through my school group at Wallace Hall Academy. I was presented with my Gold award this summer - a fitting end for all the hard work!
Anne: My daughter achieved her Bronze at 14 and finally submitted the evidence to get her Silver the week before her 25th birthday. When she started her Silver Award I was a casual volunteer for the "Table Top" (now "Open") Award Group she was part of, running a Life Skills section and helping to fund-raise.
What has been a highlight of your volunteering so far?
Eleanor: Scottish weather is never a highlight but when out on expedition a bronze participant accused me of being ‘daft’ for standing in the rain with them. I remember thinking the same thing when I was on my Bronze expedition. It’s nice not to have the heavy rucksack on my back these days and a warm car nearby. I’ve also met a great bunch of young leaders recently. It’s good to know like-minded people who are all as equally daft as me!
Anne: This year was the first time I have been out on a Gold Expedition - I usually work with Bronze and Silver as a Supervisor or Assessor during expedition season. We were on the Isle of Arran during the last week of the expedition season - in fact the last day! - and there had been some concerns about whether all the group would be able to take part. The support they gave each other, their teamwork, the delight in their achievement when they completed the four days and were told they had been successful - fantastic. Importantly, the volunteers all felt the same about their part in helping it happen; their mutual support and teamwork - it's not just the participants who get so much from the expedition section.
What do you like about volunteering with the DofE?
Eleanor: Working with young people is something I really enjoy. I hope the time that I give up volunteering for DofE will not only allow them to achieve their awards but gain skills and experiences they will remember for life. That’s what I gained from doing my DofE and I would be delighted if participants turn round and tell me a similar story in a few years time. There is also never a dull moment when working with young people, always something to have a laugh or joke about.
Anne: I enjoy seeing young people mature and develop skills that will help them move beyond school. The Assessors' Reports are great confidence boosters to some. The chance to take responsibility for themselves and others is quite daunting - I love seeing them rise to that challenge. I enjoy sharing their sense of achievement and I enjoy seeing their parents' pride in their son or daughter's achievements - parents can be reserved and not comfortable saying that, but they have little option other than to share that pride at our Award presentations. I also enjoy being part of such a prestigious organisation as the DofE knowing that our young people's achievements are recognised nationally and internationally. Finally, we also enjoy the social connection between leaders. I am really lucky to have a team of seven qualified leaders supporting our school Award Group including three teachers, a youth worker, a parent, my immensely patient husband and the head teacher who gave me my teaching job(!) In addition we have volunteers who come out on day walks. There is a social aspect to volunteering with my Group - we have an annual dinner and plan the coming year's events; we have at least one Leaders' walk (no paperwork - bliss!).
Do you have any big plans for your group in 2014?
Eleanor: Since I’m still finding my feet with the ins and outs of running my own group there aren’t any major plans for the time being. You never know though, good things come to those who wait!
Anne: Two separate Gold expeditions to Arran and at least eleven participants receiving their Gold Awards at Holyrood in July.
If you're looking for more reasons why volunteering for the DofE is "Brilliant" you might want to watch our DofE Leaders film.
If you're feeling inspired and would like to volunteer, all you have to do is get in touch with a Local Authority or national organisation by visiting our Contacts page.
More stories in our News Archive here...