Huge numbers of 15 – 17 year-olds throughout the country are doing the most amazing socially positive things. And many choose to do this through the government backed programme known as The National Citizen Service (NCS).
You get a flavour of its direction from the NCS website, for example:
MAKE THE LEAP
You’re young and you have huge potential. You have what it takes to succeed in new challenges, embrace new experiences and make your mark on the world.
NCS is here to help you on your journey. If you're aged 15-17, come and prove what you’re capable of achieving.
EXPLORE. DISCOVER. TAKE ACTION.
NCS is an experience designed to make you feel challenged and changed, engaged and empowered. The four-phase programme is just the beginning of an exciting journey that will give you all the confidence and skills you need to seize the future you want.
NCS was established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.
NCS is open to 15 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme, which takes place in school holidays, includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.
• Over 500,000 young people have taken part
• More than 12.5 million hours of community action have been completed
• For every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society
It costs participants just £50 or less to take part in NCS and bursaries are available on a case-by-case basis. Support is provided for young people with additional needs.
Since the NCS initiative is geared towards the summer school holidays, it is now that we begin to see some of the activities that these young people have been doing.
Here is just a flavour:
* A group of teenagers from the Bournemouth area completed a sponsored walk from Boscombe Pier to Hengistbury Head on the hottest day of the year.
The young people trekked the four-mile walk as part of their National Citizen Service and raised money for social action projects they are undertaking as part of their course this summer.
Programme Leader Anna Garrett said: “They are a really lovely group of teenagers whose community projects include helping care homes, working with local cancer charities and awareness campaigns around climate change and the refugee crisis.”
Bournemouth-based charitable housing association BCHA, which administers the scheme locally, delivers the course in three stages and there is a total of 360 young people participating this summer.
The walk took place on the third week of the four-week programme, for the current cohort of 83 teenagers and they followed it with a week of community work in the local community.
* A group of teenagers created a sensory garden at a Grantham care home as part of their National Citizen Service (NCS).
Two groups of pupils spent two weeks at Fairview Farm care home on Gloucester Road, Grantham, fund-raising and creating the garden.
They added a bubble machine, bird feeders, flowers, planters with tyres and gnomes.
* Others revamped a garden at the Apple Trees Care and Reablement Centre, also in Grantham, where they set to work planting flowers and vegetables in the garden as well as showing off their creative side by painting a mural of flowers on a shed.
They also raised money to buy hanging baskets full of flowers and new planters for the garden.
* In Hucknall, Nottinghamshire, teenagers volunteered to help transform a community garden after raising money to carry out the work.
The group of around 15 volunteers managed to raise a total of £350 to contribute towards two children's centres in Nottinghamshire.
£250 had been used to renovate the garden space at Butler's Hill and Broomhill children's centre.
The remaining £100 was donated to the Netherfield children's centre.
A worker at the centre said of the initiative "With funding cuts, we have limited money for restorations, but thanks to the volunteers, the garden has been rejuvenated. They've been brilliant. All the families will benefit so we're really grateful."
In the Isle of Wight, teenagers supported the Mountbatten Charity. During one week, the group were based in Cowes and Newport collecting money, as well as volunteering at the Mountbatten Distribution Centre which supplies the Mountbatten charity shops with clothing, books and bric-a-brac. Two of the group, keen amateur photographers and studying photography, arranged to teach a photography master class in return for donations. They also held a sale of cakes and healthy snacks to add to their fundraising total.
Beth Davies from the group said:
“The idea arose when planning our social action project. We would love not only to raise money for this great charity, but end the stigma that many young people in our community face; that the hospice is a dark and scary place where people go to die. Several members of the team, including leaders, have been associated with the hospice before. We think that this is the perfect way to give back.”
This group was the second wave of NCS students to choose to support Mountbatten; they set their sights on raising even more money than the first wave of NCS students this year, who raised over £1,000 for Mountbatten in a single week.