Duke of Edinburgh's Award launches Covid-19 resilience fund
Wednesday, November 25, 2020
The Duke of Edinburgh's (DofE) Award scheme has created a fund to offer thousands of places to disadvantaged young people and training for youth workers, to help the youth sector deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The resilience fund has been created to pay for 12,000 DofE places for young people facing disadvantage.
In addition, the fund will support online training for up to 3,500 youth workers to support places for disadvantaged young people. This includes senior managers, frontline managers and volunteers. Those involved in DofE licensed organisations are eligible for the training.
The DofE is also calling for the UK government to fulfil its promise to release a £500m Youth Investment Fund to support youth services in England. This month charity and youth sector organisations wrote an open letter citing concerns that the pledge made in the Conservative Party's 2019 general election manifesto has yet to materialise.
Meanwhile, DofE research highlights the “mental health crisis” facing young people without access to extracurricular activities.
Its survey of young people found that more than half (54 per cent) worry that their stress and anxiety levels amid the pandemic will increase if they are no longer able to continue taking part in activities out of school.
One young person surveyed told DofE: “When lockdown started, I was scared to leave my house and struggled to find anything good in life. I have autism and a rare genetic condition, which heightened my anxieties.
“For my DofE volunteering, I grew vegetables in my allotment to share with local people who were shielding. Doing this helped me feel less anxious, more confident, and speaking to other allotment holders from a distance has helped me learn to socialise safely. Being outdoors helps me relax and stay calm.”
More than one in four (43 per cent) of those surveyed said volunteering, exercise and learning a new skill had given them a positive focus during the health crisis and 64 per cent said they are more appreciative of non academic activities as a result of the pandemic.
The DofE describes such activities as “a lifeline for many young people, helping to maintain and boost resilience and mental health”.
DofE chief executive Ruth Marvel added: “These threats to extracurricular learning could have devastating impacts on the mental health and future prospects of young people – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom have been hit hardest by Covid-19.
“Non-academic education is just as important as academic learning, and the UK government must prioritise it as such. To face the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, young people need and deserve the increased resilience, confidence and independence built through extracurricular learning.”