Dan Eley worked as a teacher and an outreach worker before suffering a spinal cord injury during a diving accident while on holiday with friends in the Amazon in 2010. His injuries were life-changing, leaving him paralysed from the shoulders downwards and wheelchair bound ever since.
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 outreach worker, Dan decided to start a charity to help enable disadvantaged young people access vocational training and be supported to find employment.
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 technical training courses for young people from marginalized urban areas in the city of Cali, and also operates as a recruitment agency helping to match graduates to employment vacancies in local companies.
Since the start of our alliance with FEDUT in 2012 we have trained 800 students as accountancy and marketing apprentices. Many of the course graduates are now working in gainful employment, providing more economic security for them and their families.
Due to the increasing levels of poverty locally in the UK, the economic downturn and recent hikes in the cost of living, after 10 years of working together with FEDUT, we have decided to halt our work in Colombia, at least for the time being, and focus our efforts now on helping individuals in the UK.
Of course, there is some sadness to pause such a fruitful working alliance and successful joint programme, but the two charities remain on very good terms, and we do not discount the possibility of working together on partner programmes again in the future.
On a local level, since 2016, we have been supporting disadvantaged young people locally in Surrey. The focus has been on sponsoring specific individuals to undertake extracurricular activities, excursions, activities and/or training opportunities (for example DofE) that facilitate personal development. We have supported approximately 100 young people through such interventions to date. We intend to continue and increase our support to this scheme during the difficult times ahead.
Since the outbreak of covid-19 we have provided financial assistance to four schools in Surrey, to help individual students obtain and access vital educational materials and services, including donating laptops and funding interactive whiteboards for classrooms etc.
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 1000 individuals 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.”