An Awarding Future
NOW RECOGNISED AS THE WORLD’S LEADING YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH’S AWARD WAS INTRODUCED IN 1956 BY HRH PRINCE PHILIP, AS A WAY TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE DEVELOP SKILLS. I T ’S NOW DELIVERED IN 141 COUNTRIES AND TERRI TORIES WORLDWIDE, AND LAST YEAR ALONE 271,439 YOUNG PEOPLE STARTED THEIR DofE PROGRAMME.
Someone who’s passionate about the charity and the work it does is Harry Collins from G Collins and Sons in Tunbridge Wells. The Queen’s jeweller has been involved with the DofE for over 15 years, having previously held the position of International Honorable Chairman, and is now committed to making a difference in the local area.
“It’s just a great charity, which I’m really thrilled to be involved with,” he says. “There are lots of great charities and it can be hard for people to choose what’s best to support, but this one covers the problems we have at the moment with youngsters. What we do is massive in terms of changing kids’ lives and sending them in another direction.”
If you’re not familiar with the award, it’s a three-part scheme, available to any young person aged between 14-24 years of age. It begins at bronze level which takes six months to complete, silver takes place over 12 months and the gold award takes 18 months to undertake. Each is made up of sections, including volunteering, physical, skill
and the expedition.
“What we do is cool,” says Harry. “Kids can just be in jeans and a t-shirt and be themselves. We’re the biggest youth organisation in the world, and the aim is to hit every school around the world and give them the opportunity to join. Not everybody knows what teamwork is, but when you’re dangling from a rope halfway up a mountain, you soon learn how important your team is!”
HELP FOR ALL
A record 49,453 of new recruits in the last year were young people identified as being disadvantaged, at risk or marginalised.
“When I went to school we didn’t have this, but now you would,” explains Harry.
“Lots of the kids I went to school with went wrong, because their peer group was wrong –they never had anyone praising them. This does that sort of thing, which is really important. People also assume that because it’s a royal charity that it’s a scheme for rich kids, but it’s not – we’re involved with prisons, we’re taking youngsters out of an environment where it’s all bad news, and giving them something completely different that they’ve never done before, where they achieve, understand what teamwork is through working together.”
The numbers speak for themselves – the DofE has been helping young offenders at Feltham, and almost half who signed up for the scheme achieved their bronze award, while in South Africa, the re-offend rate of young offenders dropped from 97% to 30%.
But, as Harry explains, the wealthier children can also benefit from all the award offers.
“The DofE has an impact on all young people, rich and poor. Children from wealthy families can go off the rails just as easily. Often they’re targeted by drug dealers because they have money and this can set them off down a destructive path. We see this a lot with wealthy families, but if we can get a hold of these kids at the right age, rich or poor, we can give them something they’ve never had. It’s really important to get kids off the street – ‘out of gangs and into teams’ is my saying.”
Over 100 top UK employers, including the likes of Google, ITV and Heathrow have endorsed a DofE Award as a recognisable mark of a young person’s transferable soft skills, and many universities see the DofE as especially valuable due to the dedication applied by potential students.
“The DofE makes such a strong case on a CV because it’s about someone who’s willing to go through things and see things through to the end,” says Harry. “It’s particularly good if kids aren’t academic, this gives them another avenue completely where they can succeed and do well. If I was interviewing two people, and one person had done their Gold Award DofE and the other person’s done nothing, I’d take the one who has.”
Of course, it’s not just young people who can be involved in DofE. The charity is always looking for volunteers to help out in a variety of different ways so they can continue their work across the world. And, businesses can be a part of making a difference too.
“We always want volunteers, we’ve never got enough,” says Harry. “I’d like the alumni, the kids who have already done it, grown up and got good positions in their life – I want them to contact me more than ever, because we could get them to help us even more. They’ve been there and done it, and it gives them the opportunity to do something for us. They now might be a director of some big company who can put us on their charity list, or if they haven’t got money they can do volunteer work.”
The charity is also running the first ever DofE Adventure for adults on September 30 in the Peak District. Find out more at www.DofEAdventure.org.
To find out more about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, visit www.dofe.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org about opportunities across Kent.
Harry is also interested in hearing from alumni, businesses and those who can help support the charity in some way. Email him on DofE.Challenge@DofE.org or call 020 7798 2854
FIND OUT MORE
Anyone aged between 14 and 24 can do a programme at one of the three progressive levels which, when successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. There are four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold. Below are examples of the type of activities young people can do for each of their sections…
• Helping people
• Community action and raising awareness
• Coaching, teaching and leadership
• Working with the environment and animals
• Helping a charity or community organisation
• Team and individual sports
• Water sports
• Racquet sports
• Extreme sports and martial arts
• Creative and performance arts, music
• Care of animals and natural world
• Life skills
• Learning and collecting
• Media and communication
• Science and Technology
• On foot
• By bicycle
• By boat
• By canoe or kayak
• By wheelchair
• On horseback
RESIDENTIAL (GOLD LEVEL ONLY)
• Service to others
• Environment and conservation
• Activity based