Through this association it is hoped that more young people in the South West Durham area will be given the chance to develop the life skills and opportunities they need for a brighter future. The D of E is the world’s leading achievement award for young people aged between 14 and 25. It provides a balanced programme of activities that develop the whole person in an environment of social interaction and teamwork. Participants work towards their Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards by taking part in a number of community and employment-related activities.
Thorn also recognises – at a time of high youth unemployment and costly university education – the success of the charity in developing the skills that young people need for work, including leadership, team-working, problem-solving and communication skills.
The £50,000 initiative is being led by the developers of DurhamGate – Carillion Developments and Arlington Real Estate – along with Sedgefield Borough Homes (now livin), Bishop Auckland College, Durham County Council and other partner businesses and organisations.
Joanne Suggett, customer service supervisor at the Sales Bureau in Spennymoor, became Thorn’s co-ordinator for the project in December of last year. And in the short time since then a great deal has happened. Joanne says: “The scheme is run by volunteers from Bishop Auckland College and from the other organisations behind the project, and the aim is to have 20-25 young people complete their Bronze and Silver Awards over the next year, with Gold Awards to follow in year two."
“My monthly liaison meeting with staff from the College and livin has given me a new outlook on how business can help organisations whose principal aim is to help others. To date we’ve covered a variety of tasks, from recruiting volunteer leaders – 10 so far – and initial D of E training, to organising an open day and determining advertising spend.”
Some leaders have already gone onto take part in the Basic Expeditionary Leader Qualification which will enable them to lead the renowned Expedition section of the programme. Head of Business Development at Bishop Auckland College is Rob Richardson. Says Rob: “Initially we have started with two groups; one will be based in West Cornforth and the other in Bishop Auckland. There are a number of local schools that have expressed an interest in getting involved with the D of E award and the aim is to rollout further groups as demand grows. Participants in the award will be looking for opportunities to develop new skills and to source volunteering opportunities either in the local community or with employers.”