More than 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs will be able to do their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, thanks to a £300,000 three-year strategic partnership funded by Freemasons.
The MCF became a strategic partner of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme last year, and has funded a new national programme to upskill its team and volunteers, helping to enrol more schools and clubs which support young people with special educational needs.
The ambition is to use the funds to increase the number of centres, such as schools and youth groups, offering Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme participation to young people with special educational needs, and to train hundreds of leaders who can support groups of young people through their DofE journeys.
Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of Freemasonry’s governing body the United Grand lodge of England, said: “Freemasons are enormously proud to have counted His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, as a member of the Navy Lodge since 1952. Their fondness and respect were abundantly clear from the response to the launch of this appeal, and we are delighted that the funds raised will be put to such good use.”
Les Hutchinson, Chief Executive of the MCF, added: “Charity is in our DNA and something we practise every time we meet. In just a few years, we have already awarded grants totalling £100 million and supported over 3,000 charities; with grants ranging from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of pounds, including the grant we are celebrating today.”
Caroline Glen, Director of Fundraising for the DofE, said: “We’re very grateful to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for their generous grant, which will give many thousands of young people with disabilities and special educational needs the chance to take part in the DofE and gain its life-changing benefits. This is a wonderful and very practical way to continue The Duke’s amazing legacy and to spread the benefits of the DofE further than ever before.”
The programme has been designed to make DofE participation possible for young people with additional needs. It will help young people build crucial life skills, develop employability skills and become more independent.
The impact of achieving a DofE Award is remarkable and often life-changing for young people with additional needs, who can be excluded from adventurous activities due to a lack of accessible equipment, facilities, trained support staff and funding.