Young people helped to stay on course with DofE programme

Hundreds of young people across Somerset are being supported to continue their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award activities throughout the coronavirus emergency.

The DofE Team, from Somerset County Council’s Support Services for Education , is continuing to work closely with all the 58 Somerset schools and colleges, the children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) and the Youth Groups undertaking DofE awards, to deliver an adapted programme at this difficult time – #DofEwithADifference.

2,539 young people in Somerset signed up for DofE in 2019/20, and the work the team is undertaking means they will still be able to complete their awards.

Usually young people across Somerset are involved in more than 82,000 hours of activity each year across the county to complete the Skill, Physical and Volunteering sections of their DofE award. Often this is at weekends and evenings, attending different clubs and social groups.

However, with social distancing requirements National DofE is encouraging them to continue with their award at home by changing the activities to ones that can be carried out in the safety of their home.

For Skill, cookery and art are popular, with many young people cooking regularly at home for their families and learning key life skills. Many young people are also now involved in virtual music lessons to allow them to continue learning and progressing with their music teachers.

The Joe Wicks online fitness sessions have become hugely popular for Physical Activity alongside walking and cycling which can still be done within Government guidelines.

Many young people are also volunteering in their local communities – collecting prescriptions and walking dogs for those advised not to go out at this time.

Unfortunately, all expeditions are obviously postponed at this time, but many Leaders are planning for these to be run during the autumn term.

Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Cllr Frances Nicholson said: “It’s excellent that young people can keep working towards their awards. This is helping them to use their time wisely, and they can continue the very valuable personal development the Duke of Edinburgh Award offers. .

“It would be fantastic if we overcome the challenges posed by this extraordinary time and make this a record year in terms of DofE award completions.”

Daniel Moncrieff is a Service Manager with Somerset’s Support Services for Education and runs outdoor activities at the Kilve Centre, which is currently being used to support vulnerable young people.

He agrees that teachers and young people adapting well to the difficult circumstances:

He said: “At a time when young people are facing significant challenges through the requirements to stay at home and socially distance it is really heartening to see the creativity of teachers, our Somerset County Council DofE Team and young people themselves.

“They are coming up with novel and inspirational ways to stay physically active, learn new skills and volunteer in their community to complete the DofE Award and even more importantly learn fundamental life skills.”

Young people can contact their DofE Leader for any advice at this time, this can be done through their eDofE login. There is also lots of information available for participants on the DofE website – https://www.dofe.org/dofewithadifference.

The Somerset DofE Team are also on hand to answer any questions and would like to hear how young people are achieving their awards and what new activities they are involved in – dofe@somerset.gov.uk

Submitted by Communications