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.
Due 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.