A FIVE-year strategy to make the Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) “more accessible and relevant” to young people in the region has been set out by the council.
Members of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Communities Committee met on Tuesday to discuss and approve the initiatives 2021-2026 plan.
It lays out how DofE will operate in Dumfries and Galloway in the coming years – and emphasises an aim to make the scheme more inclusive and diverse.
The local authority states this will be achieved over the next half-decade by improving access, communication, quality and value within the award.
It adds it will “tackle barriers to participation and progression” and ensure that 14-25 year-olds in the region can complete their DofE “where they are”.
In addition, the council will look to increase the number of opportunities available in the programme locally and review how it can support young people to access the award, financially or otherwise.
The personal development scheme, launched by HRH Prince Philip in 1956, comprises physical activity, life skills, community volunteering, an outdoor expedition and a residential experience for those looking to achieve the Gold DofE award.
There are currently 602 young people enrolled in the programme in Dumfries and Galloway, and as of May the council operates 16 DofE centres across the region.
Furthermore, in its last year of running pre-pandemic, 278 youngsters in the region achieved a full award.
The revised strategy comes following a consultation which noted a perception “in places” that “DofE was for only those who could afford it” and “young people who face barriers are not positively targeted to engage in the DofE”.
Some of the barriers listed in the consultation’s findings include extra costs for those who enroll in the programme to pay for transport, campsite fees and equipment for expeditions.
However, the findings also note that the scheme has “many benefits for young people” and will act as a “key tool” for young people’s development post-pandemic.