Young people continue Duke of Edinburgh Award

Posted: 04/05/20

Young people from Ferndene have been continuing with the Duke of Edinburgh Award, despite the confines of coronavirus.

Part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust (CNTW), Ferndene provides assessment and treatment for young people who have complex health, behavioural and emotional needs, including those with a learning disability.

There are currently nine young people taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award at the unit, which is made up of four sections; physical, skills, volunteering and an expedition.

While the expedition section may be on hold, participants are still able to try a range of activities such as song writing, learning an instrument, volunteering at the on-site tuck shop and taking part in the Ferndene Woods Project, which involves planting trees and building homes for animals in the grounds.

The young people have even created their own expeditions, putting up a tent in the garden and cooking outdoors or ‘camping’ in their bedrooms. They have also been preparing for the real expedition by map reading and planning routes.

Bridget Lawson, activities coordinator at Ferndene, said: “The award becomes part of the young people’s routines. A lot of our service users might have started the award prior to coming to Ferndene so we help them continue it, giving them a sense of structure.

“It’s a positive experience and gives young people something to focus on. We look at what’s best for the young person and can adapt things to their individual needs so they can still have the full Duke of Edinburgh experience.”

Feedback from service users has been extremely positive, with Ferndene even setting up their own version of the award for younger service users who wanted to take part named ‘The Ferndene Challenge’. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is available for people aged 14 to 25.

One young person said: “I really enjoyed the volunteering section, it’s very rewarding.”

While another said they like having the opportunity to try different things such as hiking and cooking.

The life skills section of the award is something that’s really important for the young people at Ferndene. They are often encouraged to do things such as ironing, going shopping and handling money, and using public transport.

Bridget added: “As a recognised national award, the Duke of Edinburgh is something the young people can have on their CV which can help in the future, whether that’s applying for jobs or further education.”

CNTW is a provider of mental health and learning disability services in the North East and north Cumbria.