Four Duke of Edinburgh Cymru Youth Ambassadors today met with the Secretary of State for Wales to tell him about the impact their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has had on them, and the difference young people and adult volunteers are making in their communities.
David TC Davies, who is MP for Monmouth, met young award holders Chris, Megan, Ffion, and Caitlin at DofE Wales’ head office in Brecon. The young people shared their DofE stories, before answering questions from the Minister.
Christopher, 19, from Brecon, started his Gold Award with the Breconshire Award scheme, after being unable to do his Silver DofE Award due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chris was drawn to the DofE through his passion for exploring the Welsh countryside – whether by camping, hiking or kayaking. The Expedition section of his Gold Award pushed Chris out of his comfort zone and helped build his physical and mental resilience. But it was the other DofE sections that had the biggest impact.
Chris said: “The volunteering deepened my connection with my community, as my family had just moved to a new town at the beginning of the pandemic. Thanks to my volunteering, I'm now a qualified kayaking instructor and a section assistant in my local Scout group – which will help me in the years to come.
“The lockdowns were especially hard for young people, as we were prevented from normal socialising and the activities and experiences which would teach us valuable life lessons. That’s why I believe that the DofE Award is so important for young people – allowing them to gain independence and putting them on the path to pursue their goals and aspirations.”
David TC Davies MP, Secretary of State for Wales, said: “The Duke of Edinburgh's Awards have helped countless individuals discover their strengths and make a positive impact in society and it’s been wonderful to hear first-hand about the difference they make to young people. It was an honour to present long service certificates to some of the fantastic leaders of this organisation who have done such a great job in helping support young people realise their full potential.”
The Secretary of State also heard from DofE Wales Director Steph Price about the DofE’s impact in Wales, and the charity’s ambitious plans to reach more marginalised young people.
More than 11,000 young people started their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in Wales from April 2022 to March 2023, with 15,798 actively taking part during the year. More than a fifth (22 per cent) of 14-year-olds started their Bronze DofE, and participants gave a total of more than 90,000 hours volunteering in their communities as part of their programmes.
Steph Price, Director of DofE Wales, said: “We’re delighted to have welcomed the Secretary of State to hear directly from young people about how doing their DofE has had a positive impact on their lives, the difference they and our amazing adult volunteers are making every day, and our ambitions to make sure all young people have the chance to do a life-changing DofE programme.
"Young people are facing a challenging and uncertain time – it’s more important than ever that they all have access to regular opportunities to have fun, grow in resilience and self-belief, and develop vital, work-ready skills they can’t always get in the classroom.”
The DofE is working to make sure all young people have the chance to take part by expanding to more schools in deprived areas, community organisations, centres supporting young people with additional needs, and prisons and young offender institutions.
Mr Davies also presented long service certificates to three DofE adult volunteers who have given a combined total of more than 107 years to supporting young people to achieve their Awards.