National Citizen Service (NCS) are giving school leavers in Tees Valley the opportunity to dramatically boost their future prospects over the summer as part of a groundbreaking new programme.
The NCS is a flagship government initiative which is being delivered in Tees Valley by partner Safe in Tees Valley.
It is looking for 16-year-olds and/or Year 11 school leavers to take advantage of the scheme, now in its second pilot year, which could hugely improve the life and career skills of participants as well as allowing them to make new friends.
While hundreds of places have already been filled, there is still room for a few hundred more people to join the FREE programme that takes place over the summer.
Participants are being urged to put their names forward quickly, though, with the remaining places fast being taken up.
NCS aims to promote a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society by bringing young people from different backgrounds together to make a difference in their communities.
It is a voluntary programme for 16-year-olds which focuses on their personal and social development which includes challenging activities, from away-from-home residential experiences to a self-designed social action project.
Although the entire programme is designed to be an enjoyable summer experience, it is also aimed at empowering teenagers with greater self-confidence, pride and purpose. Parents whose children took part in the pilot scheme last year have seen for themselves the positive impact that the course has had on them.
Claire Martin’s daughter Kirsten, from Park End, was one of the first graduates. She said: “Kirsten loved the programme – it made her so much more confident as she was able to interact with lots of people and learnt to work as part of a group. I would definitely encourage other parents to get their children involved.”
Tom Smith, 15, from Hemlington, also joined the course last year. His aunt, Grace Khurana, noticed a complete change in him at the end of the programme.
She said: “Tom absolutely loved the programme last year – so much so that he now plans to serve as a mentor on this summer’s programme. He used to spend all his time at home or on the street, but this course helped him to turn his life around.
“I would say that if your child doesn’t mix well with others, then this is one solution. I’d just like to say thank you to all the people who run this course – I would recommend it to anyone.”
Those who sign up to the programme this year can take part in a range of community visits and skills development activities and even help out with the Cleveland Fire Brigade.
There will also be the opportunity to design, develop and deliver social action projects, giving young people the chance to give something back to their communities, while having fun.
Andy Vickers, Darlington district co-ordinator for the NCS, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for young people in our area to get involved in something positive that will not only help their local community, but also their own prospects – and even their social life.”
One of the team leaders from last year, Sarah Taylor, added: “It was really great to see my group learn various new skills, and I think that young people should definitely be encouraged to get involved.”
The Tees Valley programme starts in June, with activities and events continuing until August, culminating in a graduation celebration. After the scheme young people can then partake in ongoing social action and volunteering activities.
Although places are limited, there is currently a recommend-a-friend scheme which allows anyone signed up for this year, or those who participated in last year’s pilot scheme, to recommend a friend.
If they both start and successfully complete the course, they and their friend will each receive a £10 cinema voucher.
For more information on NCS call Safe in Tees Valley on 0845 271 3883 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or find the NCS page on Facebook.