Surrey-born Dan Eley worked as a teacher and a youth worker before suffering a tragic diving accident and breaking his neck, while on holiday in the Amazon in 2010. His injuries were life-changing, leaving him paralysed from the shoulders downwards and wheelchair bound.
Dan spent one year in hospital, initially fighting for his life, and then facing up to the enormous physical and emotional challenges of being so severely paralysed.
After leaving hospital Dan was looking for a new purpose as a way to rebuild his life. Drawing on his experience as a teacher and youth worker, Dan decided to start a charity to give access-to-work skills training and mentoring for youngsters living in poverty and precarious circumstances.
As well as supporting youngsters in the UK, The Dan Eley Foundation (DEF) runs a partner project with a grassroots partner charity in Colombia called: Fundación Educación para Todos (FEDUT). DEF & FEDUT run intensive job training programmes for young people from destitute urban areas in the city of Cali, and then helps link them with employment in local companies.
Since the inception of our alliance with FEDUT in 2012 we have trained over 600 apprentices. The majority are now working in gainful employment, allowing them more independence, and providing economic security for them and their families.
In the UK, DEF sponsors local partners who provide extra-curricular vocational skills training, Duke of Edinburgh exhibitions, and also mentoring services to young people in needy situations in Surrey.
Dan hopes his life experience will inspire youngsters to believe in themselves, and that they can make a success of their lives in spite of personal obstacles.
Over 800 young people have benefited from our support to date.
Since 2012, when Dan started his charity, he has been giving talks about the life changing impact of his injury and how to overcome such adversity, turning it into success and a more profound sense of fulfilment in life.
“Dan delivers a very powerful and incisive talk which is equally moving and joyful. Indeed his is a personal story to remind us that the human spirit is indomitable. From his unique perspective Dan explains brilliantly how we can all do so much more than just cope with adversity.”