Hundreds of local young people are helping others

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Community focussed young people across Wigan borough have been praised this week for their efforts to help others.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (D of E) bosses have thanked the 797 who signed up to the programme this year and who have already spent more than 8,000 hours volunteering.

Pam Sleigh, GM operations officer at D of E, said: “The social value of the time young people in Wigan borough have contributed to volunteering in the last financial year equates to a staggering £35,343.

“This is an absolute credit to all the young people in your town.”

Councillor Susan Gambles, lead member for Youth Opportunities at Wigan Council, added: “This is a fantastic achievement by our young people in the borough.

“These figures demonstrate that the vast majority of young people do want to help others and make a positive contribution in the community.

“I know that many more local young people are volunteers or care for others in many different ways.

“I think it’s great that so many are signing up to get involved in the D of E Award and will receive some formal accreditation for the work they’ve done.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award was set up in 1956 and operates with the same aim today; to encourage young people to develop new skills, improve their health and fitness with physical challenges and help others as they work towards the coveted Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.

Bryony, 15, from Orrell, signed up to D of E in September and is about to complete her Bronze Award after learning to play the piano, going on regular Saturday morning park runs and helping to organise a young people’s mental health event with Wigan and Leigh Youth Cabinet, where she volunteers.

She said: “It’s good to do things for others and volunteering is a great way to boost your own confidence too because it forces you to meet new people.

“I loved sharing ideas and doing new things that helped me and my community.”

Daniel, 16, from Astley, is working towards his Silver Award, which has involved him taking up cycling, volunteering with local cubs and scouts’ groups and learning how to play the snare drum.

He said: “Sometimes young people don’t have a good image because people don’t realise that we want to help others and improve our communities.

“I’ve got a lot out of doing D of E and have made so many new friends. I would definitely recommend it to others.”

Wigan has already proved to be a borough full of willing volunteers.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic more than 700 residents put themselves forward to help with response efforts and supporting the council to deliver vital services to vulnerable residents and isolating households.

Any young people aged 14+ who would like to get involved in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award should go to www.dofe.org