The many benefits of volunteering
20 Jul 2017
CEO Peter Westgarth talks about volunteering being the pillar of the DofE experience and represents the ethos they hope to develop in young people so that communities continue to thrive – volunteering is in the lifeblood of their Charity.
You know what really makes this country tick? The wonderful volunteering ethic that has thousands of people out there volunteering all the time and The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) is a great driver of that. As I write this there are over 400,000 young people out there doing their DofE, and they’re volunteering. They’re in your local charity shop, they’re doing an environmental project down the road, they’re working with the National Trust, they’re volunteering teaching young people to read, and that’s really important.
Volunteering is a pillar of the DofE experience and represents the ethos we hope to develop in our young people so that our communities continue to thrive. From the 50,000 local adult volunteers who run the DofE every day to the months of volunteering undertaken by our young people to achieve their DofE Award – volunteering is in the lifeblood of the Charity.
Millions have volunteered through their DofE programme since the Charity was founded and last year alone 271,439 young people signed up. To achieve their DofE Award they will volunteer for 3 to 6 months for their Bronze Award, 6 to 12 months for Silver and 12 to 18 months for Gold. We estimate that over the next three years the 2016 group alone will volunteer as much as 2.5 million hours. The estimated value of these hours is an incredible £10.1m.
The impact is profound. Getting involved in long-term volunteering encourages young people to develop a lifelong commitment to helping others. 97% of DofE Award holders have told us that volunteering makes them happier, with 83% putting that down to being more responsible, and nine out of ten Gold Award holders are interested in continuing volunteering post-DofE. 
" The positive impact of volunteering is clear. I’m proud that my own children are involved in the DofE and taking the opportunity to give back. As an employer, we embrace volunteering and welcome candidates who are keen to get involved, as this reflects the same values that we strive to have in our company.” comments Mark Zinkula, CEO Legal & General Investment Management.
Aside from the direct impact of volunteering, it can also have a number of tangible benefits for the volunteer:
Volunteering provides experience for young people to help them better understand the world outside of the classroom, build confidence, and it challenges them develop crucial soft skills like communication and leadership.
Volunteering is attractive to employers. The DofE has been chosen by a CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development) survey of UK HR professionals as the most recognised programme a candidate can reference during the recruitment process to demonstrate their volunteering experience.
Volunteering helps people break out of silos – through their Volunteering section, DofE participants tell us they get a chance to engage with their community, meet people and develop social skills.
Young people tell us that their volunteering has a positive impact on their mental health and well-being – helping to reduce stress and anxiety, build self-esteem and gain a sense of purpose.
We’re passionate about the importance of giving back to the community, seeing huge benefits across the board to all those involved. That’s why we’re proud to be part of Step Up to Serve, a national campaign with a goal to double the number of young people participating in social action to over 50% by 2020 – over 1.7 million young people taking part. As part of our commitment we are looking to engage many more adult volunteers to bring the DofE opportunity to even more young people. Adults who volunteer as DofE Leaders, DofE Managers or simply help out a DofE group in any way they can, are a key ingredient to making sure young people can not only start but also complete their DofE Award.
Through our young people and adults, the DofE has instilled a strong understanding and passion for volunteering across the past seven decades. By encouraging more young people and adults to volunteer through the DofE, we aim to continue growing the culture of volunteering across the UK.
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for the DofE – find out more here.
Article by Peter Westgarth, CEO of Duke of Edinburgh programme
- The DofE surveyed the views of over 7,000 young people volunteering as part of their Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE programme in 2016.
- CIPD Learning to Work survey, 2015