This week is Volunteers’ Week and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has revealed the breadth of social impact young people contribute to their community in Enniskillen through the Volunteering section of their DofE programme. This volunteering has a long-lasting positive effect on the individual, a spokeswoman says.
"Through volunteering, young people can gain valuable skills that have a lasting impact on both their work and personal lives," she explains. "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.
Rebecca Bleakley, a Gold DofE participant from Enniskillen Collegiate has been volunteering with a local charity shop: “I’ve volunteered in the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice charity shop for over a year now and it has really helped me gain experience of working alongside others.
"Doing my part in the charity shop gives me a chance to help other people which is brilliant, especially when it’s for such a good cause," Rebecca says.
For their DofE, young people commit to three months to a year of volunteering and often continue after they’ve achieved their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award. 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.
Kate Thompson, DofE Director, Northern Ireland, said: “Young people doing their DofE across the UK and our volunteers put an estimated £41 million back into society in volunteering hours per year. This is a phenomenal figure showing the huge benefit of the DofE to local communities and individuals alike. Through their volunteering activities, our young people show themselves to be active, considerate citizens, shining examples of their generation.”
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.