Young volunteers give hundreds of thousands of hours to the community

Young DofE volunteers give 197,000 hours to communities in Wales, 29% up on previous year

More young people than ever are volunteering in Wales as part of their DofE, giving back to their communities whilst developing key employability skills

In the lead up to Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June 2015), new figures from The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) reveal record numbers of young people are having a huge social impact in Welsh communities through the Volunteering section of their DofE programmes. Last year , young people aged 14 – 24 dedicated over 197,000 volunteering hours to their communities as part of their DofE programmes, a staggering 29% increase on the previous year.

DofE participants took part in a breadth of activities, from working with the elderly and helping out at after-school clubs, to providing advice on cyber safety, assisting at ballet lessons and attending archaeological excavations.

As well as giving back to their communities, DofE participants develop valuable skills and attributes through volunteering, such as communication, commitment, team working and self-management, all of which supports them on their future paths, particularly when entering the workplace after education. A recent CIPD survey that found over a quarter of UK companies look for a DofE Award in applications when they recruit, above other volunteering recognition programmes, and that 67% believe entry-level candidates with volunteering have more employability skills.

The DofE in Wales has supported young people in their volunteering through its Young Leaders Programme, funded by a Welsh Government, National Voluntary Youth Organisation (NVYO) grant. Set up in 2013, the Young Leaders Programme has empowered almost 200 DofE participants aged 16 – 20 from across Wales with the skills to volunteer as DofE Leaders and guide other young people through their DofE. Research shows that following the programme, over half are now doing more volunteering than before and almost three quarters are active volunteers.

Young Leader, Tanglwst, 21, from Pontardawe, commented, “I’ve always seen volunteering as being valuable to my future. Not only does it give me amazing opportunities, it helps develop me as a person. I’ve developed a love for teaching – it’s really rewarding to see the young people I work with succeed. As a whole, I’m a lot more confident through leading with the DofE.”

Speaking about the impact of volunteering, Steph Price, DofE Director, Wales, said, “As more and more young people in Wales volunteer through their DofE programmes each year, the country is seeing both the huge social impact within its local communities and increased employability of its young people. As well as a great sense of personal fulfilment, volunteering enables young people to gain the skills and experience needed to succeed in the world of work. It’s this double benefit that is so fantastic about the Volunteering section of the DofE and why many choose to continue their volunteering after achieving their Awards.”

To achieve a DofE Award, participants must complete four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold. These include the Volunteering section, a Physical section, Skills section and the Expedition section. Gold participants also have to complete a fifth Residential section.

The DofE Charity’s latest research coincides with Step Up To Serve’s Share Your Pledge Day on 3 June 2015. Step Up To Serve, a UK cross-party campaign, aims to increase the number of 10 to 20 years olds volunteering in their communities to over 50% by 2020 with the support of charities and voluntary organisations. The DofE has pledged to support the campaign through its growth of the DofE so that even more young people can take part in volunteering and give back to their communities.

Read more great stories about DofE participants volunteering around the UK:

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