The impact of the DofE programme on participants’ career prospects | Tunde Folawiyo

Many members of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award programme join during their early teens, simply because they wish to get involved in some fun activities outside of school, and make new friends. But as they complete one challenging task after another, they usually begin to realise just how beneficial their participation in the DofE can be, both personally and professionally; the vast majority find that they become far more confident, responsible and organised because of their involvement in this programme. These qualities are essential in any profession, and as such, it can safely be said that completing each level of the DofE will vastly improve a young person’s future career prospects.

Last summer, the DofE committee created a survey in which it asked participants to discuss their thoughts about the programme. The results should come as no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the DofE, like Tunde Folawiyo; they showed that 80% of those aged between 16 and 18 believed that having been involved in the DofE would make it easier for them to secure a job in their chosen industry after they leave school, with many stating that the skills and qualities they had acquired would help them through the interview process. Those who had received their Gold Award said that they felt they had developed the most important employability attributes, including self-management, problem-solving, team work and communication.

Local authorities and youth development organisations across the UK are becoming far more aware of how beneficial it is for youths to Tunde Folawiyocomplete this programme, and are now encouraging teens to join the DofE, as a means of reducing national unemployment figures in the future. Just recently, Bishop Auckland College collaborated with a regeneration project called Durham-Gate, to host a series of events designed to encourage local teenagers to sign up for the DofE. One of the attendees, Neil McMillan, explained that getting young people to join this programme would give them a significant advantage in the job market later in their lives, as many employers now actively seek out candidates who have received their Bronze, Silver and Gold DofE awards.

A similar event was arranged by a company called Amey last year; they hosted a workshop which aimed to tackle unemployment amongst young people. Amey is one of just seven businesses in the UK which allows its under-25 employees to join the DofE as part of their training.  The Earl of Wessex attended the workshop; he noted that the current economy makes it very difficult for those in their late teens and early twenties to obtain employment, and that it would therefore be wise for young people to join a programme like the DofE, which will help them to grow into well-rounded, confident and capable adults. This is an opinion which Tunde Folawiyo, and other supporters of the DofE might agree with.

Gold Award winners share their thoughts on the DofE | Tunde Folawiyo

Each year, thousands of people begin their DofE journey, in the hopes of one day receiving the programme’s top prize, the Gold award. People who are familiar with this programme, such as Tunde Folawiyo, understand that receiving the Gold is an outstanding achievement – one which recipients are likely to cherish for the rest of their lives.

Recently, dozens of young people from across the UK finished the final stage of the programme, and received their Gold awards. Ellen Chilcott and Harry Tavare joined the DofE after they began studying at Somerset College, undertaking their projects in their spare time. Discussing his experience with a journalist, Harry explained that the programme had improved his organisational skills, and given him a great deal of confidence in his own abilities.

Tunde FolawiyoEllen had an equally positive experience, stating that her volunteer work with a charity shop had been hugely rewarding, and that she had made many new friends as a result of her involvement with the DofE. Whilst she admitted that at times, it had been challenging, she said that in the end, it had been worth it. Both Harry and Ellen will be receiving their official certificates at a ceremony in St James’ Palace this month.

Three young students from the Channel Islands, named Yasmin, Rowland and Sophie, will also be collecting their Gold awards this February. Like Harry and Ellen, they all had very positive experiences; Rowland said that his DofE expedition had helped him to understand the importance of team work, co-operation and perseverance, whilst Yasmin said that she is confident that completing the programme in its entirety will help her with future challenges, such as university interviews and job applications. This is precisely why Tunde Folawiyo, and other people are in favour of youth development programmes like the DofE; it gives young people a head start, and makes it considerably easier for them to achieve their professional ambitions.

Several teenagers from Berkshire are also due to receive their Gold certificates during the coming weeks. One of the recipients, Luke Crisford, spoke enthusiastically of the 4-day DofE expedition he had taken, which involved a 60-mile canoe trip, beginning in Fort William, and ending in Inverness. He explained that this activity had allowed him to understand the value of working as a team, and of persevering when faced with challenging circumstances. He finished by saying that he would recommend the DofE programme to all teens.

DofE launch project with Dallaglio Foundation | Tunde Folawiyo

Just a few months ago, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award committee decided to team up with the Dallaglio Foundation, in order to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in sport, and join the award programme. As of September 2013, the DofE has been working with Lawrence DallLawrence Dallaglio 2006aglio – the former rugby star who launched the foundation – to help teens to get involved with the DofE, via their local rugby associations.

Dallaglio’s charity is an organisation which virtually everyone, including Tunde Folawiyo, is familiar with. Launched just five years ago, it has already managed to raise over £7 million, by hosting annual events such as the Golf & Wine Club, the 8-Rocks and the Dallaglio Cycle Slam. His collaborative project with the DofE is being funded by ICAP, who have donated enough money to enable at least 200 people to join a rugby club and gain their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards. The goal of this venture is to teach teens how to work well under pressure, communicate effectively with others, and work as a team.

Speaking to the press, Lawrence Dallaglio stated that sport can have a profound impact on a young person’s life, and that partnering with the DofE would allow participants to not only enjoy all of the benefits of playing rugby, but also provide them with the opportunity to achieve accolades which will make them more employable in the future.

He went on to say that the values which had been instilled in him through the practice of this particular sport – things such as trust, honesty, sportsmanship and respect for others – had helped him to cope with a very challenging period during his teens. He added that he hoped that his foundation, along with the DofE, would help other young people going through similarly difficult times.

Adedoyin Sonibare was one of the first DofE students to get involved in this project. She joined Dallaglio for a rugby training session, which she described as one of her most enjoyable DofE experiences.  She remarked that it had been a privilege to have been taught by Dallaglio, and added that he was a lovely person who was very supportive and encouraging. Sports enthusiasts like Tunde Folawiyo will understand that training with Dallaglio is a dream for many people; he is widely regarded as one of England’s greatest rugby players, having participated in 85 matches for his country, including the 2003 World Cup.

Progressing through the DofE Gold level | Tunde Folawiyo

The Gold level is undoubtedly the most challenging stages of the DofE programme, and can only be undertaken by those aged 16 or over (although the Bronze and Silver levels are available to anyone over the age of 14). As someone who is familiar with youth development programmes like the DofE, Tunde Folawiyo understands that the key to successfully passing the Gold level is to demonstrate that you have developed your skill sets, and grown as a person, due to your involvement in your chosen activities.

Much like the other levels, the Gold requires participants to complete Volunteer, Physical, Skills and Expedition sections. However, in addition to this, they must undertake a Residential trip, which will last for at least fivTunde Folawiyoe days. Those who are aware of this programme, like Tunde Folawiyo, might know that the Residential section is particularly demanding, as it involves working on a challenging goal with complete strangers, in an unfamiliar setting.

In short, a great deal of effort goes into completing this particular level. As such, it should come as no surprise that many participants consider receiving their Gold certificate to be one of the highlights of their young lives. Recently, a national DofE award ceremony was held at St James’s Palace for those who had finished the final stage of the programme, with recipients accepting their awards from the Earl of Wessex.

Daniel Albone and Peter Hawkings, both from Axbridge, attended this event in order to receive their certificates. The two boys had undertaken a wide range of activities in order to reach this stage; they held fundraising events so that they could go on a wildlife conservation expedition to South Africa, volunteered for the National Trust, and worked as wildlife wardens on the Welsh island of Skomer.

Both recipients had nothing but good things to say about the programme, explaining that they had learned a lot about themselves and their abilities through their participation in it. Whilst they acknowledged that it had been hard work, they went on to say that it had also been hugely enjoyable and rewarding.

More young people involved in this programme will be receiving their certificates over the coming weeks, including over a hundred students from Caistor Grammar School. Whilst the students’ Bronze and Silver certificates have already been given out at a small ceremony held in the school hall, Caistor students who have finished the Gold level will be awarded their certificates at a grander event, to be held at Buckingham Palace, in February of this year.

How the DofE established itself overseas | Tunde Folawiyo

Just a few short years after the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was launched in the UK, word of this exciting new youth development programme began to spread overseas. A number of schools in other countries started to take an interest in it, and with some careful planning and preparation, their students were able to participate.

The trend of foreign schools and organisations joining in the DofE, and creating their own versions of this programme, continued to grow and by the early eighties, the DofE committee in the UK decided that it was time to hold an International Forum. In total, nineteen delegates attended; after lengthy discussions on the best ways to develop the programme overseas, they decided to re-designate the International Secretariat. Not long after this, they established the DofE International Award Association, whose work is now carried out by the highly-respected DofE International Award Foundation – a charity which Tunde Folawiyo may be familiar with.

Tunde FolawiyoThese two organisations have made is considerably easier for young people around the world to get involved with the DofE. Currently, the programme has more than 850,000 participants worldwide, and since the DofE was first launched, approximately 8 million people have completed their bronze, silver and gold level activities.

Today, the staff at the DofE International Award Foundation work tirelessly to promote this programme in over 140 countries, giving young people the opportunity to participate – regardless of their circumstances or background – and preserving the integrity of the award itself. Whilst the Foundation has already achieved a great deal in this respect, its staff intend to help even more people to get involved. Their new business plan will enable the Foundation to raise awareness of the DofE in countries where it has not yet been launched and continue to improve the quality of the programme itself, both in the UK and abroad.

Those who are aware of this programme, like Tunde Folawiyo, might know that the Countess and Earl of Wessex have also been doing their part to promote the DofE around the world, with the former having recently been named as the DofE International Award’s Global Ambassador. The couple have set off on a journey which will take them to the USA in late February, and Barbados and Jamaica at the beginning of March. Throughout the past 12 months, the Countess and the Earl have travelled to many other countries on behalf of the DofE International Award, including Zambia, South Africa, Canada and Hong Kong.

Completing an expedition with the DofE | Tunde Folawiyo

For many DofE participants, the most challenging and enjoyable aspect of their experience in the programme is completing the expedition. Tunde Folawiyo, and anyone else who is familiar with the DofE, will know that whilst the exact nature of the expedition itself is left up to the individual, the DofE does require individuals to follow the expedition rules very closely. For instance, only a team of between four and seven people can work together to carry out this activity.

Tunde FolawiyoIn addition to this, participants must show proof of the preparations they have made, and the training they have undertaken in the lead up to the actual expedition, and the entire process must be overseen by a DofE-approved supervisor. The team also has to be very clear about what their aim is for their expedition; depending on where they are going, examples of aims might be to explore and document a historical landmark, or to observe the levels of pollution in a particular forest, and plan activities which might help to reduce or eliminate this pollution.

Like most people, Tunde Folawiyo understands the importance of being physically and mentally ready for this type of strenuous, and challenging event. The training which is done prior to the trip must adequately prepare the participants for the mode of travel and activities they intend to engage in; so for instance, if they plan to go on a long hike in a mountainous area, they might have to follow a fitness regime, and ensure that they have the right equipment to guarantee that they reach their destination safely.

So as to ensure that the teams are fully prepared, the DofE also requires them to carry out a practice run of the trip; this is something which most  participants find quite helpful, as it gives them an idea of what to expect. Recently, students from St Patricks School in Malta completed their trial expedition, choosing to spend three days exploring the route from Mosta to Ghadira Bay. During it, they learned some important survival skills, carried out team-building exercises, learned how to correctly read maps, pitch tents and understand basic first aid techniques, all of which will undoubtedly make their actual expedition considerably easier.


Volunteering with the National Trust via the DofE | Tunde Folawiyo

The Duke of Edinburgh Award (the DofE) is one of the most prestigious awards that a young person can receive. Completing all of the activities at each stage can take up to four years, and as such, only those with a great deal of determination, confidence and courage make it through to the end of the Gold level.

For many participants, the volunteering section at each level is one of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of their DofE experience. Many who support this award programme, including Tunde Folawiyo know that carrying out volunteer work is an excellent way to make young people more aware of the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Moreover, this type of selfless work also encourages them to develop many important qualities, including empathy, patience and generosity.

Tunde FolawiyoDue to the flexibility of the programme’s structure, they can choose almost any form of volunteering, provided it is undertaken for a non-profit or charitable organisation, rather than a business. Many participants choose to volunteer with the National Trust, as this organisation usually has a variety of voluntary positions available at any one time, meaning that whether they’re interested in conservation work, event planning, history or architecture, they’ll be able to find a role which suits them.

This is one of the reasons that people like Tunde Folawiyo are in favour of the DofE programme; it allows young people to explore their interests, via this type of volunteer work, and see where their strengths lie, whilst at the same time, helping an important non-profit like the National Trust to continue its good work.

DofE participants who opt for outdoor volunteering with the National Trust will be tasked with protecting and maintaining natural environments by, for example, participating in bio-surveys, carrying out basic repair work of damaged pathways and fencing, or repainting signs and patching up dry stone walling; these types of jobs are ideal for those who are keen conservationists, and who enjoy working with their hands.

Others might give guided tours of National Trust beaches, woodlands or moors; this job would be perfect for those who are already quite sociable and confident, or those who wish to improve upon their public speaking skills. Many DofE volunteers chose to work in the National Trust gardens; again, the work here is varied, but may include taking care of community allotment patches, setting up physical boundaries around the garden or, for green-fingered participants, carrying out tasks such as seed cataloguing, pruning and planting.


The benefits of getting involved in the DofE | Tunde Folawiyo

Supporters of the DofE, including Tunde Folawiyo know what a positive impact the programme has on the lives of young people. The benefits of becoming involved in the DofE cannot be understated; participants have the opportunity to explore possible career paths through their volunteer work, discover hidden talents, improve upon their existing skill sets, and fine tune their communication and problem-solving abilities. This programme also enables young people to learn about the importance of taking the initiative, being responsible for their actions and managing their time well. Perhaps most significantly, it boosts their self-confidence, as they see that they are in fact capable of achieving the goals which they have set for themselves.

Tunde FolawiyoThose who have reached the end of their journey with the DofE, and received their Gold awards have nothing but good things to say about their experience of this programme. Take Hollie Devlin for instance; this young woman recently received her gold award from Prince Philip, at St James’s Palace in London. She got involved in the programme whilst working at the Ramsey Grammar School as a teacher of modern foreign languages, progressing to the Gold level, and passing each section with flying colours.

As fellows of the Duke of Edinburgh World Fellowship, members including Tunde Folawiyo are familiar with the activities that one must complete as part of the DofE programme. Few people, however, realise just how demanding these activities really are. For example, Hollie completed a 50-mile trek along Snowdonia, participated in a scheme called Young Enterprise, volunteered at Guides and organised a residential holiday for the Brownies. However, whilst these activities were certainly challenging and time-consuming, they were also incredibly rewarding. Discussing her experience, Hollie described her time with the DofE as ‘fantastic’, adding that she had learned how to work as part of a team and how to communicate more effectively, both of which had enabled her to become a better teacher.

A similarly positive story was shared by another recent Gold award recipient named Andrew. Like Hollie, he too completed his expedition by hiking in Wales, whilst his volunteer work was carried out at St Raphael’s Hospice. He chose to learn how to drive for his Skills section, and improved his tennis skills for the Physical section. Whilst he enjoyed all aspects of his experience, Andrew said that volunteering for the hospice was particularly fulfilling, as the staff there had previously helped his grandmother to take care of his ailing grandfather.


DofE Silver level celebrations | Tunde Folawiyo

Like the other fellows that support the DofE, Tunde Folawiyo understands the importance of acknowledging the hard work that participants undertake to complete the Silver level activities. Many of those who have just joined the DofE programme dream of the day when they will be given their Silver certificate. It’s a great honour, and serves as proof of the recipient’s ability to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals. To receive this award, participants who have already completed their Bronze activities must spend a minimum of six months on their Tunde FolawiyoSilver level activities, whilst those who have not received the Bronze award are required to spend at least a year at this stage.

Silver Award Presentations (often abbreviated to SAPs) are held five times a year, in order to publically acknowledge the hard work undertaken by DofE participants at this level. The support provided by organisations such as the Duke of Edinburgh World Fellowship, which fellows including Tunde Folawiyo support, and the help of Local Authorities is what allows the DofE committee to continue to hold these important ceremonies. Most participants will be invited to a SAP within six months of finishing their Silver activities, provided their licensed organisation has sent off their Silver Award Notification form for approval.

Recently, a ceremony of this kind was held for a group of young people from Yorkshire. In total, 36 participants received their awards, which were handed out by the DofE Regional Director Neil Forrest, the Lord Mayor of Bradford and Councillor Khadim Hussain. Speaking at the event, Councillor Hussain congratulated all of the recipients, praising them for their determination and hard work. He finished by saying that it was an impressive achievement, and that they should all be very proud of themselves. Neil Forrest was equally complimentary, stating that it had been wonderful to watch so many young people flourish and grow as individuals.

A similar event was held in Glasgow this month at the High Tunstall College of Science. Over the course of the evening, 18 students received their Silver awards, after having worked tirelessly for more than a year on their Volunteer, Skills, Physical and Expedition activities. The college’s assistant head teacher, Mick Fenwick, said that he and the other staff members were ‘extremely proud’ of the recipients, noting that their achievement was a testament to both the students and the teachers who were involved in the delivery of the DofE programme. One of the recipients, named Harriet, explained that her activities at Silver level had provided her with memories that she will treasure for the rest of her life.


Gold Award Presentations held in UK and Australia | Tunde Folawiyo

Many people, including Tunde Folawiyo understand just how important it is to encourage young people, and help them to reach their full potential. When a student dedicates years of their life to completing a series of goals which they have set for themselves, it seems only fair that their hard work and perseverance be rewarded.

Tunde FolawiyoIn the case of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, many participants say that their experience, and the skills they acquire throughout their journey are reward enough. However, the DofE committee makes it a policy to ensure that the young participants’ achievements are publically acknowledged and celebrated, which is why, each year, they host dozens of Gold Award Presentations (GAPs), in venues all over the world.

Last month, a GAP was held at Government House, for 99 Australian students from Hunting Tower School. Bareetu Aba-Bulgu, who recently received the Empowering Monash Women Award, was chosen as the representative for the Gold recipients. Despite being just 18 years of age, Bareetu has already achieved a great deal, due to her involvement with the DofE.

Anyone who is familiar with this programme, like Tunde Folawiyo, will know just how much time and effort the DofE demands of its participants. Over the last three years, Bareetu became a volunteer for the Waverly Hockey Club, learned to play the double bass, and applied for, and was awarded a cadetship with the renowned Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

The above-mentioned Empowering Monash Women prize required her to carry out a long and challenging list of tasks, all of which she completed in addition to her academic studies. Speaking to a journalist at Government House, she described her exchange trip, which allowed her to attend an Australian indigenous school, as the most rewarding aspect of her DofE experience, adding that the trip had taught her a great deal about the importance of respecting the land.

Another GAP was hosted in the UK a few weeks ago, at Herstmonceux Castle. In total, 44 students from East Sussex received their Gold Awards for their participation in the DofE programme which, in this part of the country, is run by East Sussex County Council. One of the recipients, named Chloe Braybrook, gave a presentation; during it, she spoke of her DofE volunteer activity, which involved working with an organisation that runs residential camps for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Following her speech, she and the other attendees were all awarded their Gold certificates, in recognition of their years of hard work. Councillor Nick Bennett praised the recipients, and commended all of the DofE staff and volunteers who sacrifice time in order to run the DofE programme in East Sussex.