More than 9,400 young people in Wales started their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in 2021/22, newly released figures reveal.
Young people gave an amazing 49,842 hours of volunteering in communities across Wales through their DofE, with an equivalent value of £230,270 – showing their capacity to be a powerful force for good, despite the challenges of recent years.Across the UK, 321,622 young people started their DofE in 2021/22 – the highest in the charity’s 66-year history.
The record-breaking numbers, published today, show a surge in appetite for extracurricular opportunities like the DofE, as young people continue to navigate challenges left by the pandemic and future uncertainties, including a cost-of-living crisis.
Overall, 12,883 young people across Wales are currently working towards a DofE Award, supported by 1,323 amazing volunteers.
Young people’s education, mental health and social lives have been massively affected by the pandemic, with those experiencing marginalisation hardest hit. Non-formal, educational opportunities like the DofE, which are open to all young people, are needed now more than ever. They offer young people the chance to develop vital skills, confidence and resilience to help them take on challenges and fulfil their potential.
Opening up access
These are the first annual statistics published by the DofE since it launched a new five-year strategy in 2021. The charity is working to reach one million young people by 2026, with a particular focus on widening access to young people facing marginalisation – such as those facing poverty, those who have additional needs and young people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
In the last year, the DofE has:
started ambitious projects to support more community organisations in the UK’s most deprived areas to offer the DofE and, in Wales, helped remove
barriers to participation for young people in schools, working with large numbers of young people who receive free school meals.
expanded the DofE in prisons and young offender institutions.
directed additional resource to support over-16s in further education colleges in Wales.
launched a UK-wide project to support more young people with disabilities and additional needs to do their DofE.
recruited UK Youth Ambassadors and maintained the Wales Youth Ambassadors group, putting young people at the heart of the charity’s work.
The DofE is a non-competitive personal challenge open to all young people aged 14-24 and is run in schools, colleges, youth and sports clubs, prisons and young offender institutions, hospitals and many more, across the UK.
Steph Price, DofE Wales Director, said:
“We are delighted that 9,400 young people across Wales have started their DofE journey this year. Despite the difficulties young people have faced over the past year, they have given thousands of hours in volunteering across Wales to help their communities.
“The statistics show young people, now more than ever, refuse to be defined by challenges and are looking for opportunities to develop skills and make a positive difference to the world around them.
“It’s thanks to our incredible volunteers across Wales that we are reaching so many young people. Over the next year, we’ll be building on this work to make sure more young people in Wales’ most deprived areas, and more young people with additional needs, have the chance to do their DofE.”
Lucy Aur, 22, from Llanelli, is a DofE Youth Ambassador for Wales and completed her Gold DofE at school. Lucy, who struggled with anxiety growing up and was a carer for her grandma, found taking part in the DofE helped her mental health and impacted her life more than she had imagined. Doing her DofE gave Lucy a much-needed chance to step away from her caring responsibilities and enjoy being a teenager, while working with small children for her Volunteering section provided an unexpected means of helping her anxiety and boosting her confidence.
Lucy said: “The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award took me from being an anxious teenager to a more confident adult. DofE helped me find myself. Now when I’m in a situation that’s difficult I think through those DofE challenges, and I realise that nothing can break me.
“Since taking part in the DofE I feel more ready to say yes to new things that, as a teenager, I never thought would be possible. I am delighted that so many young people across Wales are taking part.”
Young people doing their DofE made a positive difference in communities all over the UK in 2021/22, giving more than 2 million hours of volunteering in support of a wide variety of causes – from cleaning local beauty spots and protecting wildlife to setting up charities to tackle poverty and hunger. Many contributed to the COVID relief effort, volunteering at foodbanks, sewing PPE, shopping for neighbours and even singing online for care homes.