Young people learn new skills and contribute to their local community with the National Citizen Service
12 September 2016
52 young people from Watford and surrounding areas took part in the Youth Connexions summer 2016 National Citizen Service (NCS) programme, raising over £1,400 for local charities.
The four-week NCS programme sees young people choose worthwhile community causes to support, plan and budget for projects, raise funds and carry out the work. As well as learning how to successfully manage and complete a community project, the young people also take part in team-building exercises, which develop their communication, trust and leadership skills.
During the first week of the programme the young people developed their team work skills by taking part in challenging activities at an outdoor education centre on the Isle of Wight. They supported each other to overcome fears and worked as a team to solve problems. The activities included obstacle courses, zip wires and team sports such as volleyball.
Alexandra (age 16) said “I’ve learnt to face my fears, with the help of my peers.”
The second week was another residential – this time at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield. Here Youth Connexions staff delivered a programme designed to prepare the young people for the challenges they may face when going on to further or higher education, training or employment. They attended sessions on ‘Resilience and decision making’, ‘Personal branding’ and improved their interview skills by doing mock interviews with Youth Connexions personal advisers.
During this week the young people also took part in workshops on ‘Risk taking and road safety’ led by Hertfordshire Air Ambulance and ‘Independent living’ with workers from Herts Young Homeless. They also gained a qualification in first aid.
For weeks three and four the group was divided into three teams for the social action projects:
The first team decided to support Herts Young Homeless. They chose this charity as they wanted to show their support to young homeless people in their area and send them a positive message. They raised £590 by taking part in a sponsored walk. They also put together ‘care packages’ for distribution to young homeless people.
Alison Wildey, Community and Events Fundraiser for Herts Young Homeless, said “Herts Young Homeless has been really impressed with all the hard work and planning that went into raising the money for the care packages. They’ve done amazingly well and we will make sure the packages go to the young, vulnerable people who need them.”
The second team chose Watford Foodbank as their charity and they also raised money by doing a sponsored walk - walking 12km from YouthPoint in Watford to Rickmansworth Aquadrome. They raised more funds by holding a film night at the YouthPoint Centre for Young People and through a raffle. They also collected food donations at a stand outside the Sainsbury’s in Garston.
Maria Walcott, a member of staff at Sainsbury’s said: “They were punctual, professional and polite. It’s great that teenagers are doing so much for their community!”
They raised a total of £355 for the foodbank and in addition received donated food items worth £415. The food weighed in at the foodbank at just over a quarter of a tonne! When they delivered the items and the money to the foodbank, the staff were delighted and said that they will use some of the money for buying food when it is a quiet time of the year for food donations.
The third team chose to support Herts Air Ambulance, following the talk at the University of Hertfordshire. They organised an event for other young people at the Watford Rugby Club – raising money by ticket sales and selling cakes. One of the young people was the DJ for the evening, having learnt DJing skills on the NCS programme. It was a successful evening with nearly 100 young people attending. They raised even more by doing a sponsored silence and a raffle. The total raised for the charity by this team was over £500. The young people felt they learnt a great deal about how to organise and plan a successful event.
Tarah (age 16): “Meeting new people and trying new things on this programme has been one of the best experiences of my life.”
Maja (age 16): “I found it rewarding and it made me realise how generous people can be.”
Find out more about NCS with Youth Connexions here.
Want to sign up for the 2016 Autumn programme? Express your interest here.