Launched in 2011 and now the world’s biggest youth movement, National Citizen Service (NCS) is set for further growth as places on the scheme continue to expand. In April 2017 the NCS Bill received Royal Assent, placing the programme on a permanent statutory footing.
The latest independent research into the short-term impacts of NCS nationally, indicates that every £1 spent on the NCS programme in 2015 secured a return to society of between £5.65 and £8.36, according to social impact economists Jump and Simetrica.
Here, we take a look at the broad impact the life-changing programme has achieved so far on young people, schools, communities and the youth sector in the North East.
Investing in our young people
NCS builds resilience and grit in young people, as well as confidence, leadership and communication skills – all of which are vital for employability and life.
“There are also sessions to build confidence, leadership and communication skills, as well as help with learning to live independently and involvement in local projects,” says Julie Elliott, MP for Sunderland Central.
The NCS enterprise agenda produces mature and capable young people, and nurtures British values such as tolerance, respect and inclusion – offering positive outlets and role models for young people. The unique social mix on NCS, as well as the focus on encouraging young people to step out of their comfort zones, also prepares young people for the diversity and challenges of university or working life.
“I’ve witnessed first-hand the impact that [NCS] has had on young people in my area and to schools and colleges,” says Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead. “Many of the young people told me how they’d built their confidence up, met new friends and mixed with others from different backgrounds. Others told me how NCS has acted as the platform for university and apprenticeship ambitions.”
National research indicates that around one in ten young people found their NCS experience in 2015 worthwhile, were proud of their achievements, and felt they developed useful skills for the future.
Teaming up with schools
NCS offers a host of benefits to schools, including directly contributing to Ofsted judgements and equipping learners with the skills and experience they need to make their next steps into further studies or the world of work.
Matthew Waterfield, Principal of Emmanuel College Gateshead – NCS ambassador school for the North East – explains: “NCS learner engagement directly contributes to Ofsted judgements and gives young people a springboard to successful next steps in education, employment or training.
“UCAS recognition makes the programme great for our academically-focused students, whilst employers value the skills with which NCS equips young people and this makes it equally excellent for our learners looking to progress into apprenticeships.”
A force for positive change in our communities
Through NCS, young people create and deliver projects in their community, working with local charities and organisations to help causes they care about.
“NCS puts young people in the driving seat of positive, proactive social action… working together for something bigger than themselves, by creating a lasting legacy,” says Anna Turley, MP for Redcar & Cleveland.
Thousands of young people in the North East spent over 214,000 hours volunteering through NCS in 2016. That’s equivalent to £1million injected into local communities, based on the minimum wage.
“The NCS programme enables young people not only to take part in outdoor activities and meet new people but also to give something back to their communities,” notes Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West.
Working in teams, the young people provide capacity-building and awareness-raising support for local charities.
“It means so much to us all at The Albert Kennedy Trust that the team chose our charity to work with,” says Deputy CEO of The Albert Kennedy Trust, Wendy Hodgson, “and the message about our work being delivered by young people to their peers through the NCS project makes it even more special." As well as enabling teens to learn how to tackle a problem in their local area and feeling that they can change the world around them, NCS has also been shown to have a positive impact on their likelihood of voting.
As well as equipping thousands of teenagers to build bright futures, they gain real world work experience and develop skills that enhance CVs and UCAS statements, as NCS graduate Graham Smith, 18, of Gateshead, points out:
“I am proud and passionate about helping others. I’ve struggled to keep my CV to three pages as it’s so full of things I’ve done with NCS!”
Supporting the North East youth sector
The NCS North East delivery model actively supports the region’s youth sector. We deliver the life-changing scheme through our 13 passionate local delivery partners to ensure high quality provision whilst offering a gateway to secure funding.
We also work shoulder to shoulder with the region’s key movers and shakers in the public, voluntary, education and cultural sectors. They directly influence how NCS is delivered in our region, making sure to maximise its impact for local young people, families, and communities.
Our place based approach in Redcar & Cleveland, for example, has already doubled participation in NCS – whilst partnerships with charities such as the Deaf Society and Whizzkids have helped make the programme even more accessible to young people.
The latest national evaluation research into the NCS programme was published on 8 March 2017.