Picture Caption: – L-R Aqub Nazir (Director, Aspire 2 Inspire Communities), Helen Foster (Director, DofE North of England), Kalsoom Khanum (Director, Aspire 2 Inspire Communities), Asrar Ul-Haq (Deputy Lieutenant to Greater Manchester) and Beth Craigen (Operations Officer, DofE North of England) at the launch event

Young people in Rochdale will have the chance to discover new talents, develop lifelong skills and build their resilience and self-belief by working towards their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), thanks to new funding for Aspire 2 Inspire Communities.

The community organisation – based in Regent Street – held a launch event on Saturday to celebrate receiving just over £10,250 over three years to help them run the DofE for the young people they work with.

The grant comes from the DofE’s Access Without Limits funding, which offers financial and practical support to allow community and voluntary organisations to run the DofE, giving opportunities to young people who might not otherwise have the chance to do theirs.

Aspire 2 Inspire Communities works with young people from black and minority ethnic communities, new and emerging communities, refugees and asylum seekers, families facing financial hardship, and young people with additional needs, disabilities and language difficulties.

The DofE is a non-competitive personal challenge, open to all young people aged 14-24. Each young person chooses their own activities in three sections – Skills, Physical and Volunteering – and completes a challenging Expedition. When completed, these lead to a highly respected Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award.

Aspire 2 Inspire Communities deliver a range of activities for young people – including running sports clubs and encouraging them to volunteer at local food banks – which can directly contribute to each young person’s DofE. The Access Without Limits funding will be used to train staff and volunteers, fund transport, and purchase equipment, to allow Aspire 2 Inspire to deliver the DofE sustainably in the long term.

Asrar Ul-Haq: Deputy Lieutenant said: This is a fantastic opportunity for young people in Rochdale which will help them to gain some great skills and experience which in turn should give them an advantage in the employment or education arenas. 

Kalsoom Khanum, Director of Aspire 2 Inspire Communities, said: “A lot of the young people we work with have never had the opportunity to do something like the DofE. Having this chance will help our young people when applying for college and university, build their confidence, bring mental health benefits by helping them connect with nature, and give them lifelong skills.”

Life-changing experience

The DofE’s Access Without Limits community funding is being piloted over the next three years thanks to a £3m grant from The Julia and Hans Rausing Trust, and aims to give young people living in the UK’s most deprived areas the chance to do their DofE in trusted organisations within their communities.

The DofE is working to reach a million young people by 2026 – with a particular focus on supporting those who face barriers to taking part, including young people from marginalised communities, those facing financial hardship, and those who need specialist support to do their DofE – such as young offenders and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

Helen Foster, Director of DofE North of England, said: “Doing your DofE can be a life-changing experience. It gives young people a chance to have fun, discover new talents and passions, build their resilience and self-belief, make a difference in their communities, and pick up practical skills like leadership, teamwork and problem-solving – so they’re able to fulfil their potential and succeed in whatever they choose to do. 

“It’s more important than ever that all young people get access to opportunities like this. So we couldn’t be happier that Aspire 2 Inspire Communities will now be offering the DofE to the young people they work with – and can’t wait to hear what they go on to achieve in the months and years ahead.”

Categories: News