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  • Waterside’s 2nd Birthday!

    Today, we are celebrating the second anniversary of Waterside Centre reopening.

    3 August 2023

  • Duck Race

    Our friends at the Rotary Club of Reading Abbey have asked us to share news of the charity fundraising event they’re running at The Oracle on Saturday 9 September.

    31 July 2023

  • Tilehurst Youth Club

    Thank you to youth worker Jessica for this update!

    31 July 2023

  • Waterside – July 2023

    Kelly told us: “The summer months bring a range of activity to Waterside Centre.

    31 July 2023

  • The Wayz – July 2023

    A real summer of fun at The Ways; the month started brilliantly with the Community Fun Day and Bracknell Together Walk.

    31 July 2023

  • Britwell – July 2023

    Britwell Youth and Community Project’s Summer Holiday Club is running from Monday 24 July– Friday 18 August (daily Monday – Friday), 11am – 3pm.

    31 July 2023

  • Updates from our Flagship Youth Clubs

    Please click on the links below for the latest updates from our flagship youth clubs in Slough, Bracknell and Newbury.

    31 July 2023

  • Youth Development and Community Engagement Update

    The school holidays are now upon us and our summer programmes are in full swing.

    31 July 2023

  • Training News

    Here are our upcoming training courses, including posters.

    31 July 2023

  • Staff Spotlight

    In the last update, we caught up with Abbas, who was celebrating his first year of working at Berkshire Youth.

    31 July 2023

Daisy’s DofE Story

25 May 2023

Daisy had heard about the DofE from friends, but other than that didn’t know much about it. Berkshire Youth provided the opportunity to complete the Award virtually, working independently on her sections and organising her expedition through an AAP. When she found out more about the DofE, she realised she was already completing the activities for her three sections. She was an outdoorsy person but had moved on from Scouts, so DofE and the expedition seemed like the perfect opportunity to rekindle her love for nature and the outdoors.

For her Bronze, Daisy chose to do CCF for her Skill as it was something she was already doing through school. She didn’t find it easy but was determined to commit to it for the school year, in addition to doing it for her 6-month Bronze section. Through CCF she learnt basic training skills such as fieldcraft, handling guns and using equipment safely, and learnt more about the army.

For her Physical, Daisy chose swimming. She had been swimming from a young age but decided against doing it competitively. However getting back in the pool helped her to keep up her fitness and recover after a knee injury, which had prevented her from playing football for a while.

Bronze was the first expedition Daisy completed and did so just before COVID, so it was an opportunity to experience an expedition that wasn’t affected by the pandemic. As it was her first properly independent hiking trip, she found it really exciting, and because Berkshire Youth offers the DofE virtually, it was a chance to meet more people also doing their expedition independently through an AAP.

For her Silver, Daisy decided to try something new for her Skill section and having seen ‘bell ringing’ at the top of the list of recommended activities, she thought she’d give it a go, as it had also been advertised locally. She soon began to attend weekly practices and ring the bells for services and events in the church. Despite being the youngest there by a few years, she found they were a really supportive group who looked after her. She continued with this for her Gold Award and now still attends practices despite finishing her hours of activity for DofE.

For her Physical, Daisy played football and was on the local team, which at the time was all boys. She describes football and any physical exercise as making her feel better, both physically and mentally. It’s a stress-release. She hopes to take up football again when she starts university in September.

Finally, for both her Silver and Gold Volunteering, Daisy continued to help at a disability swimming club, where she is a highly valued member of the team. She first heard about the group as her brother has a disability, and so she went along to support him. She has since committed nearly every Saturday afternoon for five years to helping at the club.

Through her volunteering, Daisy has worked with a range of people, both young and old. This means her role can be very varied – from teaching someone how to swim from scratch, to helping them adapt swimming to their disability. From teaching a little boy to swim his first length independently, to helping a lady who suffered a stroke to get her balance and gain movement in her arms – Daisy describes the job as being very rewarding.

Her Silver Expedition was by far Daisy’s favourite, and again as she was doing it through an AAP she didn’t know many of her team mates. This was just as the UK came out of another lockdown, and so they chose an expedition that was local – the final checkpoint was moved at the last minute to being the train station just one stop away from Daisy’s house! By the time she was signing up for Gold, Daisy had realised how much she enjoyed meeting new people, and so she deliberately chose an expedition group where she didn’t already know the team. She feels these are the expeditions she enjoyed the most, and still keeps in touch with her teammates.

For her Residential at Gold, Daisy was looking for a cost-effective option when she saw the YHA advertising an opportunity to volunteer at a Youth Hostel in Yorkshire. Although it was reasonably far away, it was a good option and, while she was there, she mostly helped with landscape gardening. Again, this was another opportunity for Daisy to talk to people who she didn’t already know, something she now enjoys and actively seeks out.

Daisy’s story [in her own words]:
“I had been involved in swimming for a while but wasn’t interested in doing it competitively. However, being involved in swimming coaching has been such a rewarding way of helping others get into swimming and to feel the benefits of it. I originally went along to support my brother, who has a disability, and I’ve been there most Saturday afternoons ever since (for the past five years) helping a wide range of people.

“I work with both older and younger people at the swimming club, but I like working with younger people the most. It’s amazing seeing them doing things for the first time – when one of the boys swam his first length on his own, I was so proud! It’s also quite a social environment and I can help them out with any problems they might have, chatting through them and sharing some of my experiences with them, or we can just talk about what fun things they’ve been up to that week.

“The role is really varied – sometimes it’s teaching people how to swim from the very basics, for others it’s helping them adapt swimming for their personal ability. I helped one lady who had had a stroke, supporting her to get her balance again and gain more movement in her arms. Others just want to improve their technique, so for that I take on more of a coaching role. You can always see a noticeable difference in people and see them improve through the club.

“The volunteering has also made me think more about how you can support other people to get the best out of their situation – making sure they’re comfortable, empathising with people and realising it’s not always easy for them to access certain activities. All the sections offer you something completely different and have large impacts on you in their own way, but volunteering definitely had the biggest impact on my character.

“For my Skill section, I first did CCF which I didn’t really enjoy, but it taught me to stick at things. Then for my Silver, I saw bell ringing at the top of the DofE’s list of suggested activities and it was being advertised locally, so I thought I’d give it a go. I now attend practices on Tuesdays and do service ringing on Sundays, as well as occasionally doing events like weddings. I’m not very musical at all, but I enjoy it as it’s mostly about learning patterns. It’s a nice community, with everyone being really sweet and supportive, although they’re all somewhat older than me. I do find it funny when they make jokes about getting old and what I’ve got to look forward to when it happens to me! I’m conscious I want to keep going as they’ve put a lot of time and effort into teaching me.

“I find exercise is really important to me – it makes me feel better, physically, mentally, everything. I used football for my Silver and Gold Physical. The main attractions for me are being outside, testing my fitness and just having fun. Through playing for a few teams I’ve also met some really nice people. I was too young at the time to play competitively for the women’s team but in a pre-season friendly I managed to score five goals, which was also a nice feeling, especially as I normally play in defence! I don’t play at the moment due to a lack of time and not having a women’s team particularly close to me. Instead I spend my free time in the gym, but football is something I’m hoping to pick up again when I start university.

“The expeditions also really stand out to me. I hadn’t had the opportunity to do many hikes before and hadn’t had much independence when camping with Scouts, so I found it really exciting. I have since done many longer walks and gone camping in unknown places with friends and family, as I’m more confident with being able to follow new routes and not get lost as a result of my DofE.

“I’ve met so many people through my DofE, and I think the independence of doing it through Berkshire Youth really helped this. I’d call myself sort of halfway between introvert and extrovert. I always knew I liked talking to new people, but it wasn’t something I actively sought out. Doing the expeditions gave me more confidence to leave my comfort zone and put myself in new situations. This has definitely helped me in everyday life to get on with activities, even if I’m anxious in doing so. By the time I was at Gold, I deliberately chose the expeditions where I didn’t know people in the group and in more challenging locations, as I had had such good experiences previously.

“I recently went to a university interview day, and I was one of the only people who didn’t bring their parents with them. However, I felt comfortable approaching and starting conversations with people who were also on their own, and DofE definitely helped me build my confidence for situations like this. The expeditions have also ignited an excitement in me to experience new environments and to visit new places, with my next adventure being interrailing with one of my friends in the summer.”

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