New figures released by youth achievement award charity, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), have revealed the social impact that young people have on their local community. In 2018-19, DofE participants in Plymouth donated a staggering 10,478 hours of their personal time to volunteer for a range of community causes. To quantify the significance of the support given in monetary terms, this amounts to around £42,435 worth of time given in support of others.
Amongst a whole host of activities, the top 10 volunteering roles fulfilled by DofE participants in Plymouth were: sports leadership, helping children, charity shop, youth work, litter picking
fundraising, helping people in need, group leadership, environment and beach/coastal conservation.
In the midst of Brexit discussions and uncertain and changing times, supporting those in need, charitable causes, and the breadth of people in society, is valuable not only to the beneficiaries and institutions involved, but to the wider society and young people themselves.
The volunteering activities chosen by young people address a multitude of prevalent issues, including sustainability and environmental concerns, loneliness in elderly communities, development and encouragement of younger generations and health and wellbeing. Collectively, it is hoped that the support of the young people involved will go some way to rebuilding the camaraderie and togetherness that society is calling out for.
For DofE participants themselves, volunteering also provides an opportunity to give back their time as others have helped them in their lives, a chance to support across the generations of society and a new environment in which to enhance their skills for life, prepare for the future of work and widen their personal and professional network.
Sophie Blake, Gold DofE Award holder, who dedicated her time to a primary school, children’s hospital ward and community shop for her DofE programmes, said:
“I found my voluntary placements beneficial and interesting; I have grown in self-confidence and my health and wellbeing has improved greatly. At the primary school I helped look after the school children, supporting them with homework and playing games, whilst at Derriford Hospital I helped with admin tasks including answering the phone, assisting staff and helping parents with enquiries.
My self-confidence grew most whilst volunteering for the community shop as I met and learned about my neighbours in the village and felt confident enough to speak and approach people that I didn’t know.”
Speaking about the impact of volunteering, Heather Thompson, Director for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the South West, adds:
“Volunteering is all about making a difference to other people’s lives and giving back to society, and these latest figures demonstrate the huge impact that our young people are having in their communities. Giving their personal time to help others is valuable and rewarding for all involved and we hope that Sophie’s experience will inspire others to consider doing their own DofE programme and changing things for the better, for themselves and wider society.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a youth achievement award for young people aged 14-24. As part of their DofE programmes, participants take part in 3-12 months of volunteering, depending on the level of Award they are working towards. Alongside volunteering, they also complete Physical, Skills and Expedition sections, and, for a Gold Award, a Residential activity. For further information on the DofE, visit www.DofE.org.