More than 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs will be able to take part in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, thanks to a grant of £300,000 from the Freemasons.
The Freemasons in Cambridgeshire have become a strategic partner of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award (DofE), funding a new national programme to upskill its team and volunteers. The programme will also help enrol more schools and clubs, to ensure all young people have access to DofE.
To make it possible, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Freemasons’ charity, have teamed up to enable the charity to reach at least 30,000 young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) by 2024. The ambition is to increase the number of centres, such as schools and youth groups, offering DofE to young people with SEND and train hundreds of Leaders – trained individuals supporting groups of young people through their DofE journeys.
At least 15,000 young people will achieve a DofE Award sponsored by the 200,000-strong UGLE, to support The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
The programme has been designed to make DofE participation possible for students with diverse difficulties and disabilities. It will help the students to build crucial personal life skills, develop employability skills and become more independent, and aims to offer students the same experiences available to their peers in mainstream education.
The impact of achieving a DofE Award is remarkable and will be life-changing for young people with physical or learning difficulties, who are often excluded from adventurous activities due to a lack of accessible equipment, facilities, trained support staff and funding.
The programme aims to increase the opportunities for young people with special needs, as well as increasing the number of specialist Leaders by providing bespoke training to adults supervising young people with special needs. The aim is to have 240 more adults trained to support young people with SEND by 2024.
The initiative also includes a plan to offer support to new delivery partners that work with young people with SEND, to encourage them to offer the DofE.
His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, who founded the DofE in 1956, was himself a Freemason, having been introduced to Freemasonry in 1952 at the age of 31 by his father-in-law King George VI. Throughout his 99 years, he was associated with some 992 charities, either as president, patron or honorary member.
Dr David Staples, chief executive of the UGLE and a Cambridgeshire Freemason said: “Prince Philip was well known for his charity work, having been involved with numerous organisations. At UGLE, we looked for a project that would honour Prince Philip's memory. Helping young people with special educational needs and becoming a strategic partner of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award is therefore a great honour for us.
"Helping the DofE was an easy decision as Freemasonry's core values are charity, integrity, respect and friendship,” he added.
Caroline Glen, Director of Fundraising, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “We’re very grateful to the Freemasons 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 Freemasons work on average 18.5 million hours each year as volunteers in various areas, including driving vulnerable people to the hospital, preparing meals, taking care of people at risk, organising care packages, and producing scrubs, personal protective equipment (PPE) and hand sanitiser.
They also donated more than £1m last year to the Covid-19 support effort, with the funds being used to help communities in various critical areas, including food banks, support for unpaid carers, PPE, supplies for hospitals and hospices, support for women's refuges, and funds for NHS workers, ambulances and equipment.
As well as the late Duke of Edinburgh, the Freemasons can also count other Royal Family members among their number, including HRH The Duke of Kent, who is the longest-serving Grand Master of the UGLE.
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Interviews available on request
Livia Ferreira, public relations manager, United Grand Lodge of England
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9208 | Mobile: +44 (0)7539 578699
Michelle Worvell, director of communications and marketing, United Grand Lodge of England
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7395 9290 | Mobile: +44 (0)7538 512669
About the United Grand Lodge of England:
The Premier Grand Lodge, which became the United Grand Lodge of England, was founded at the Goose and Gridiron Pub in London in 1717. It has 48 Provinces across the country and more than 7,000 Lodges, with students over the age of 18 able to join one of the 85 University Scheme Lodges. Freemasons use four important guiding principles to help define their path through life: integrity, friendship, respect and charity. One of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, Freemasonry’s roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our cathedrals and castles. Membership is open to people from all backgrounds and the organisation’s aim is to empower members to be the best they can be – it’s about building character, supporting members as individuals and helping them make a positive contribution to society. Freemasonry is one of the largest charitable givers in the country, contributing more than £48m to deserving causes in 2018 alone. Freemasons do not only donate money – more than 18.5 million hours of volunteer work are undertaken by Freemasons every year.
About the Masonic Charitable Foundation
The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is one of the largest grant-making charities in the country. Funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families, the MCF awards millions of pounds each year to local and national charities that help vulnerable people, advance medical research and provide opportunities for young people. The MCF also helps to fund vital services such as hospices and air ambulances and regularly contributes to worldwide appeals for disaster relief. In total, MCF support helps to improve the lives of thousands of people every year in England, Wales and internationally. As well as providing grants to charities, the MCF supports Freemasons and their families with a financial, health or family need. Visit www.mcf.org.uk
About The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
The DofE was set up by The Duke of Edinburgh in 1956. Since then, 6.7 million young people have taken part and 3.1 million have achieved their Award, proving to themselves that they’re ready for whatever life throws at them.
Due to the pandemic, the DofE has never been more needed. It offers young people the chance to be free to follow their own passions and discover new skills and talents they never knew they had. To make a difference in their community by volunteering for causes they care about. To escape, to have fun and make friends for life. To prove that if you believe in yourself, you can do anything. Over 330,000 young people across the UK are currently doing their DofE including 180,000 young people who started their DofE programme in 2020/21. In 2020/21, 45,000 achieved an Award and 62,400 earned their Certificate of Achievement, through a range of Licensed Organisations including schools, youth groups, young offender institutions, sports clubs, hospitals and fostering agencies. 22% of new participants were young people facing financial hardship, social exclusion, or those that need specialist support to do their Award, such as young offenders or young people with special educational needs or disabilities. The DofE’s ambition is to reach one million more young people in the UK over the next five years, as part of its Youth Without Limits strategy (launched June 2021). The DofE is supported by over 3,700 partner organisations and approximately 40,000 adult volunteers. The DofE is supported by UK employers including St James’s Place Wealth Management, RSM, Heathrow, DFS, Amey, Royal Mail and British Gas who endorse the skills and attributes developed whilst doing a DofE programme such as resilience, commitment, self-motivation, and team working. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a Registered Charity No 1072490 and in Scotland No SC038254 and a Royal Charter Corporation RC000806
More information about the DofE, go to DofE.org.
About Cambridgeshire Freemasonry