More than 30,000 young people with disabilities and special educational needs (SEND) will be able to do their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, thanks to a three-year strategic partnership, which will donate a total of £300,000 from the Freemasons. To make this partnership with the DofE possible, the UGLE has teamed up with the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF).
The MCF became a strategic partner of the DofE in 2021 and has funded a new national programme to upskill its team and volunteers. The programme also helps enroll more schools and clubs which support young people with SEND, to ensure all young people have access to the DofE.
HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (Prince Philip), who founded the DofE in 1956, was himself a Freemason and was initiated into Navy Lodge, No 2612 on 5 December 1952.
The ambition is to use the funds to increase the number of centres, such as schools and youth groups, offering DofE to young people with SEND and to train hundreds of Leaders who can support groups of young people through their DofE journeys.
Dr David Staples, UGLE's Chief Executive, 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.