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Volunteering with Five Rivers Participation for the Duke of Edinburgh Award

Olivia Doherty, our National Participation Lead, works with many of our children to give them opportunities to learn new skills, engage in the delivery of the fostering service and give young people some unique work experience opportunities. Olivia sees our young people as ‘experts by experience’.

One opportunity was taken up by C*. C goes to a grammar school local to Olivia and is engaging in the Duke of Edinburgh Award as part of her extracurricular activities. She came to Olivia and the Five Rivers Participation Programme for the ‘community service’ element. She worked alongside Olivia and the University of Plymouth students supporting other younger children to explore and celebrate their care experienced identity as part of the organisation’s celebration of the Five Nations One Voice – Care Day.

View our project in collaboration with the University of Plymouth on YouTube.


Below is a write-up from her about her engagement with Five Rivers Participation. 


I participated in a Plymouth University art day as part of my D of E volunteering section for Five Rivers. I enjoyed that we were allowed to make and do what we wanted to, with the theme of ‘proud to be me’. This was a fun topic to do because it could include things like ‘what you like to do?’ or ‘what has happened to you that makes you you?’ It also reflected what the other people there thought of themselves and there were a lot of different perspectives and art techniques towards what we had to do.

I also liked that there were art students in the room with us and they were very supportive and good at giving us ideas on what to do. They taught us different things to make and do. This was good because it gave people something to do if they were stuck on ideas and they encouraged us to think of unique ways of doing things. They also took pictures of what we did and told us that our art was good.

Throughout the day I used a lot of different mediums of art and enjoyed the variety they had. I was able to develop my skills (slightly!) using different things like paint and collage materials. This was fun because I am usually quite reserved in how I express my artwork, I am not usually very brave when it comes to trying new things. As well as trying new things I had a go at using the techniques I use most and am most confident with. This was good because I felt like I was showing people how I portray myself and this is my style, this is what I am proud of about me.

I liked that there were other kids there because I could talk to other people in care like me and make friends. It was nice that there were a range of ages there so it included lots of people.

I feel like this was part of my volunteering because the things that we did on the day were projected for the people of Plymouth to see and showed them what it was like being in care. It showed that we are proud of ourselves and there are some positives about being in care. It was not just us that participated, there were a lot of other people and it showed that being in care was not something that was not very common.

Because it was most of the day it meant that I was able to do quite a lot of things. I did drawings and collages and tried to paint as well. I liked that it was the whole day because we were all able to do quite a lot. I helped some of the younger kids a bit and tried to do as much stuff as I could!

Overall, I really enjoyed being at Plymouth University for the day. I got a lot done and had fun being with other people. I am glad this contributed to my DofE because I liked doing it and it didn’t feel like I was working or doing something that would demand a lot from me.

*We have hidden the identity of this young person by using initials for safeguarding.

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