Province invested over three years 2016/18 a substantial amount toward the DofE Award scheme for disadvantaged youngsters across Somerset.
Here’s a brief annual update that reflects how that Masonic investment is still paying off across the county during the last year.
Since October 2019 – participants have achieved the following:
|Disadvantaged Awards Started||324||62||58||444|
|Disadvantaged Awards Achieved||128||31||27||186|
On top of this 505 certificate of achievements have been issued across the county, a new certificate introduced this year due to the Covid 19 pandemic, for those participants who achieve their Skill, Physical and Volunteering sections. The charity recognised that expeditions at this time are very difficult to run, as are residentials, so wanted to ensure that Young People could still achieve something this year.
This is a great result given the current situation and shows how committed our Somerset DofE team and Centres are to ensure that we reach as many young people as possible in the county.
With regards to the bursary funding, we have had a successful year with £5657 awarded in total to 38 applicants. However only three of these are since March, where Covid19 has impacted start-ups in centres. Most centres use the bursary fund for expeditions, and many are on hold at present due to DFE guidelines on residential activities.
In 2020/21 – we are expecting DofE numbers to drop, as many centres have cancelled enrichment at lunchtime and after school. However, we are doing our best to ensure that centres still offer DofE as Young People can do activities at home now, to continue with an award. #DofEWithADifference has enabled participants and centres to make changes to the award.
The bursary fund will be key over the next year, as we are expecting families to be hit by the pandemic in terms of income and applications to come through as centres plan for expeditions next year.
We are also hoping to use the bursary fund to match the DofE Resilience fund – where a centre is awarded free Participation places on application to their fund. The Resilience fund is there for centres above the national average in terms of Free School Meals and Pupil Premium, alongside IMD 1-3 areas – we have 20 centres that qualify across the region.
There is a group comprising Avon and Somerset Police, Young Somerset, SSE Outdoors, Somerset DofE and TAS & PFSA Coordinator for the Sedgemoor Learning Alliance which have come together to create a targeted DofE programme for young people who are at risk of NEET, being excluded from school or have other learning issues such as anxiety. The Kilve DofE Programme started in January with a cohort of 10 selected Young People, from two local schools. The impact of two months doing DofE with us at Kilve every Monday was amazing to see, then Covid19 lockdown hit. These Young People have continued with their DofE at home and 8 went out on expedition with their school in September – something that would never have happened without our programme being in place.
A new group from West Somerset College has just started on the same programme at Kilve and within three weeks the centre is seeing changes in the Young People and their attendance and behaviour at school. This group is being funded by the West Somerset Opportunity Area, however DofE committee would like to get another group started at Kilve from Bridgwater Schools utilising the Somerset Bursary.
This year has been incredibly busy with the DoE team working from home in this new uncertain world. Teams meetings with centres and lots of phone calls, is keeping everything on track delivering DofE to as many Young People across the country as possible working with 61 centres and remote participants.