Huge social impact of DofE volunteering

DofE reveals huge social impact of
young people volunteering in the UK

In the lead up to Volunteers’ Week (1 – 7 June 2014), The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) reveals the breadth of social impact young people contribute to their communities in the UK through the Volunteering section of their DofE programme and the long-lasting positive effect the experience has on the individual.

Research of almost 232,000 DofE participants aged 14 – 24 demonstrates young people engaging in a wealth of volunteering opportunities, from helping children at after-school clubs to campaigning on local issues, mentoring peers to supporting charities and those in need. As well as the traditional volunteering roles, the survey also identified more unusual opportunities young people have pursued, such as setting up an eco-club, playing the drums during church services and knitting hats for premature babies.

For their DofE, young people commit to three months to a year of volunteering activity depending on their Award level, and it is estimated that DofE participants alone give their free time to society to the value of £24m each year. 82% state that they would like to take part in volunteering and voluntary activities after achieving their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award, largely due to the impact young people can see they’re having; 62% of DofE participants believe that doing their DofE has helped them make a positive difference to their community.

Through volunteering, young people can gain valuable skills that have a lasting impact on both their work and personal lives. These include communication, team-working and commitment, in addition to the emotional intelligence and social awareness volunteering fosters.

The DofE works with other charities to support young people in their volunteering choices, including the British Heart Foundation, Oxfam, NSPCC and PDSA which provide a variety of opportunities.

Kyle Kinsella, 18, from London, started volunteering at a Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied (PHAB) youth club as part of his DofE over three years ago and now continues to volunteer 10 hours a week. He said: “To start with, I was just going to complete my DofE but soon found it became a huge part of my life. I always talked about it in my day to day and looked forward to attending each week. It became more than my Volunteering section for my DofE; The club has become like my little family.”

As well as Volunteering, other sections of the DofE include: Physical, improving in an area of sport, dance or fitness; Skills, developing practical and social skills and personal interests; Expedition, planning and undertaking an adventurous journey; and Residential, only for Gold Award participants, staying and working away from home doing a shared activity.

Peter Westgarth, DofE CEO, said: “Our research shows the huge benefit of the DofE to local communities and individuals alike. Through their volunteering activities, young people show themselves to be active, considerate citizens, shining examples of their generation. Getting involved in volunteering at a young age is a fantastic foundation for a lifetime of helping others.”

There are currently over 300,000 young people taking part in a DofE programme across the UK through a variety of centres including both state and independent schools, special schools, businesses, prisons, Young Offender Institutions and youth groups.

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