Bedford man helps NHS Trust lead the way with Duke of Edinburgh Awards project

Health development coordinator Steve Muggridge with Magda Charlton,  DofE operations officer - East
Health development coordinator Steve Muggridge with Magda Charlton, DofE operations officer - East

A Bedford man is to run The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for an NHS Trust in the first project of its type in the country

The East London Foundation NHS Trust (ELFT) will use the DofE to support clients using its Bedfordshire mental health and wellbeing services.

Health development co-ordinator Steve Muggridge, 31, has driven the project and is keen to see the first group of young people start their programmes to achieve the awards.

The licence is for Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Wellbeing Services but Steve, who spent six years in the RAF as a PE instructor, also hopes to see it rolled out with the trust in London.

He said: “I am really excited about this project. We see the DofE as a fantastic opportunity to really help service users in the community. It helps build confidence, improve physical fitness, sets a routine and provides clear goals. All of these can only benefit young people looking to regain a sense of structure and hopefully further their education or find work.”

Steve will complete his expedition leader training in the coming weeks.

He added: “We believe that by providing both mental health and physical health support that our service users can really progress. The DofE will also be open to anybody, we won’t exclude anyone.”

Training will be provided to service users in the community but he also plans to promote the DofE with inpatients as part of their recovery plan when they go home.

The DofE is open to young people aged 16-24 and will be offered to any service users in that age bracket.

For the Bronze Award they are required to complete an hour of physical activity, an hour learning a new skill and an hour volunteering every week.

The six-month programme finishes with a two-day expedition, which will be led by Steve. He is the trust’s registered DofE Leader and he is now looking for volunteers to help support the programme. Email steve.muggridge@elft.nhs.uk if you would like to get involved.

ELFT won a Health Service Journal (HSJ) Award in November for staff engagement in recognition of its success in delivering high levels of staff engagement and motivation across the Trust.

The Trust also received a Nursing Times award for the Care of Older People in November.

ELFT Deputy Chief Executive and Chairman of Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Wellbeing Services, John Wilkins, said: “As a trust we feel honoured and privileged to run The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. The charity has spent the past seven decades transforming the lives of young people and we want to use its values – from being physically active to helping others – to give mental health service users the same opportunities for a brighter future.”

Speaking on behalf of the DofE, Phil Brown, regional director for central, said: “We are delighted that East London Foundation NHS Trust will use the DofE to support clients using its Bedfordshire and Luton Mental Health and Wellbeing Services at the start of our diamond anniversary year. The wellbeing of young people today is something we as a charity feel is highly important and we want to encourage and enable all young people, from any background or circumstance, to develop vital skills that will help them through life and in work. “