Taking advantage of the expedition flexibilities introduced during the coronavirus pandemic, George and his DofE cohort were able to complete their Gold expedition in the summer of 2020. It pushed him harder than he expected but also gave him purpose after a difficult few months. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, George had been furloughed by his employer and later made redundant from the job he loved.
“My mental health took a major hit when I was on furlough and I was struggling so much. When I was made redundant, it felt like my whole world was ripped from beneath me.” We know from our own research that doing the DofE has many mental health benefits, helping to build confidence and resilience and improve young people’s general wellbeing. It certainly gave George a focus.
He originally signed up to do his Gold DofE as it seemed like “an exciting adventure I could do with my friends” and he’d already achieved his Bronze and Silver Awards. Before being made redundant, George had volunteered as a cricket coach, taken up cycling and gained DIY and gardening skills for his DofE.
“Having zero motivation after losing my job was really making me debate whether I wanted to complete my DofE. I had to think about what I really wanted in life and decided that achieving it would be a defining moment. My mum started running a few years back and is already taking part in marathons – seeing how much she puts into this activity really inspired me to keep going.”
Completing the expedition and achieving his Gold Award put a new spring in George’s step. He applied to agricultural college, where he was offered a place, and he is also hoping to become a DofE Leader.
“One of the great things about the DofE is that it’s a talking point. We discussed it in my college interview and also when I applied for a part-time job. In fact, my DofE was the first thing that was mentioned when I walked through the door for my job interview. I really believe it boosts your employability – it definitely helped me to get my new job.”
For George, achieving his Gold DofE was even more important after being made
redundant. “After having a bad time, it showed me that I can work through anything to reach an amazing goal. My DofE achievements have made me feel much more positive and confident that I can now go on to lead a better life.”
Take a look at DofE With A Difference for ideas and advice on how you can keep doing your DofE during the coronavirus outbreak.
And don’t forget – if you’ve completed your Physical, Skills and Volunteering sections but can’t do your expedition right now, we’ve introduced The 2020 DofE Certificate of Achievement to formally recognise your achievements at this extraordinary time.