Royal Seal of Approval for Croydon College


By - Friday 6th June, 2014

Croydon College is celebrating being granted the most prestigious award a voluntary group can be given – the equivalent to an MBE.


Image used with permission

Release begins: The college is the first further education (FE) college in the country to receive the top award, The Queen’s Award for Volunteering – given annually for excellence in services to the community.

Granted to groups, rather than individuals, it recognises their outstanding achievements striving to improve the quality of life for others in their local community.

The award is particularly apt for Croydon College. It is widely recognised as being one of the most diverse colleges in the UK, not just ethnically diverse but socially and academically diverse, too. Students at the college could be studying anything from GCSEs to degrees and postgraduate qualifications.

The college has been working hard to forge positive relationships within its community, and has been encouraging intergenerational activities and assisting students to volunteer their time helping others. Last year alone, over 1500 students volunteered 18,000 hours – lobbying, campaigning, fundraising, awareness-raising and even representing young people at the UN.

The college’s thriving volunteer culture is thanks in large part to Di Layzelle, Head of Student Life, who celebrates 25 years at the college this year.

She has always believed in encouraging students to learn by ‘doing’ and has been instrumental in finding ways to harness students’ potential to give back to their communities whilst developing their skills to work.

Born in Nairobi, she began her teaching career as a PE teacher, later moving to Croydon College to help with the development of the vocational sports courses. Since then her career has gone from strength to strength and amongst her many successes has been working with UNICEF, developing partnerships with Danish and Canadian Schools to give students a wider choice in volunteering and developing the Volunteer Pledge Award – providing support for students deciding what and how much volunteering they will do.

One student who has really benefited from volunteering is A-level student Ryan Raghoo (17). He said; “Through my work with UNICEF I have been involved with national and international campaigns, I have been given the chance to go and teach human rights in Denmark. I would encourage everybody to volunteer, it is a precious opportunity to develop as an individual.”

Elizabeth Akindutire (19) who is studying Health & Social care at the college agrees, said: “There is incredible value in being at service to others, you truly find a lot about yourself.”

The pledge has proved so successful its pattern is now being used by UNICEF UK for part of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games.

Di says her work with the students is, both ‘exhilarating’ and ‘rewarding’ and added “It should never be underestimated how much young people can achieve.”

Frances Wadsworth, Principal and CEO at Croydon College said: “Volunteering supports our community and improves students’ awareness of others’ needs, but we recognise it develops valuable employability skills too. Student volunteering at Croydon College is on a remarkable, laudable and significant scale, led by an inspirational manager, Di Layzelle. I am incredibly proud of the work that Di has achieved with our students and the scope and levels of the support they have delivered to benefit others. The Queen’s Award for Volunteers is a wonderful recognition of exceptional work and we are very proud to receive it.”

Release ends.

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  • Anne Giles

    How wonderful!