A Duke of Edinburgh’s Award recipient has said the challenge helped him through his mental health struggles, adding it gave him “a sense of achievement when I was going through my worst”.
Jack Bayley, who completed all the steps to receive a gold award, said at one point his depression was so serious he was placed on suicide watch on a mental health ward.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said he had found school difficult and felt like an “outcast”, but the award “helped me on a path where I could aim towards something”.
He added: “It gave me an opportunity to seek some achievement.”
Mr Bayley helped coach a wheelchair football team to fulfil the volunteering aspect of the challenge, and is now planning to become a PE teacher.
Describing finally completing the award, he said: “It felt good for my journey – where I was a couple of years ago compared to now, it felt amazing.
“Anyone out there going through depression or suicidal thoughts at a young age, take up the Duke of Edinburgh course because I can assure you it will help you.”
Danny Furphy, who has completed his bronze award, said he had been advised to participate by the Youth Offending Service after getting into trouble for stealing cars.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I have learned so many more new skills, (such as) helping others by doing the volunteering – you get a sense of pride from doing it.
“It’s a nice feeling, getting out there and getting to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.
“I didn’t want to do it at first, I thought it’s not my type of thing, but doing it has just showed me so much more.
“You don’t always have to choose the wrong path and I think that’s the thing (the Duke of Edinburgh) has left behind as a legacy.”
He now has a job and is training to become a joiner.
“I don’t believe I would be doing that (without the award), I’d still be messing around and getting into trouble,” he said.
To anyone considering doing the award, he added: “I would say go for it, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s great to do.”