In 2018-19, participants in Ballymena donated a staggering 4,264 hours of their personal time to volunteer for a range of community causes. To quantify the significance of the support given in monetary terms, this amounts to around £17,269 worth of time given in support of others.
Amongst a whole host of activities, the top 10 volunteering roles fulfilled by DofE participants in Ballymena were: sports leadership, faith communities support, charity shop, Boys’ Brigade volunteering, religious education, group leadership, helping children, charity administration, animal welfare and Girls’ Brigade volunteering.
The volunteering activities chosen by young people address a multitude of prevalent issues, including animal welfare, development and encouragement of younger generations and health and wellbeing. Collectively, it is hoped that the support of the young people involved will go some way to rebuilding the camaraderie and togetherness that society is calling out for.
For DofE participants themselves, volunteering also provides an opportunity to give back their time as others have helped them in their lives, a chance to support across the generations of society and a new environment in which to enhance their skills for life, prepare for the future of work and widen their personal and professional network.
Speaking about the impact of volunteering, Kate Thompson, Director for The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award/Joint Award Initiative in Northern Ireland, said: “Volunteering is all about making a difference to other people’s lives and giving back to society, and these latest figures demonstrate the huge impact that our young people are having in their communities. Giving their personal time to help others is valuable and rewarding for all involved and we hope that young people will feel inspired to consider doing their own Award programme and changing things for the better, for themselves and wider society.”
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a youth achievement award for young people aged 14-24. As part of their DofE programmes, participants take part in three to 12 months of volunteering, depending on the level of Award they are working towards. Alongside volunteering, they also complete Physical, Skills and Expedition sections, and, for a Gold Award, a Residential activity.
In Northern Ireland, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has a Joint Award Agreement with The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and Gaisce – The President’s Award, which enables young people to choose how they wish to be recognised for their achievement. They can choose a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Gaisce – The President’s Award, or a Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Certificate, on completion of their programme.
For more information on the DofE and the Joint Award Initiative in Northern Ireland visit www.DofE.org and www.theawardni.org.