A government-backed programme is helping transform the lives of young people aged 16 and 17.
The National Citizenship Scheme (NCS) was set up in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society.
NCS Trust public relations manager Melissa MacKenzie said: “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.”
The two- to four-week programme takes place in the school holidays.
Participants are expected to undergo 30 hours of volunteering in the community, with a view to developing meaningful and sustainable projects that leave a local legacy.
Melissa said: “NCS is making a positive contribution towards developing our country’s future talent and is proven to increase confidence, communication and leadership abilities in the young people who participate.
“The programme supports young people’s transition to adulthood by developing their strength of character and life skills, which enables young people to contribute to society with a greater sense of purpose, optimism and belonging.”
The NCS costs parents and guardians just £50, with bursaries available upon request. The scheme is open to 16- and 17-year-olds across England and Northern Ireland.
This year, Chichester is running teams on July 2 – 27, July 16 – August 10 and July 30 to August 24. Segments include the five-day Adventure Phase, based at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. Participants stay in festival teepees and join activities including coasteering, stand-up paddle boarding, climbing and bushcraft.
The Discovery Phase, also five days, is held at the University of Chichester, Bognor Campus, and focuses on developing skills for work and life, including presentation skills, broadcasting, road safety, healthy relationships and first aid.
Finally, the Social Action Project runs for two weeks, from Monday to Friday, in local community buildings.
Everyone has the chance to celebrate their team’s achievements at a special graduation ceremony with parents and/or carers, as well as teachers and other local dignitaries, the press and other invited guests, and pick up their certificate signed by the Prime Minister.
To sign up, see ncsyes.co.uk.
‘The summer of your life’
The National Citizenship Scheme (NCS) has helped thousands of young people build their confidence, make amazing friends and conquer many of their fears.
One of the key points made by NCS graduates is that ‘everyone should join’.
With that in mind, 15 spaces are still available for young people who would like to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime scheme this summer.
The free slot runs from July 30 to August 24.
Participants will join hundreds of other people their age from across the area.
Susannah Conway from the NCS team at West Sussex County Council (WSCC) said: “This year, 350 young people from Arun and Chichester are taking part in NCS with WSCC.”
Last year, 270 people from Arun and Chichester districts took part in the NCS programme.
One participant from a local academy said: “I’d say @ncsyes developed me from a teenager into a young adult as I learnt things about myself and others and gained lots of new friends. It challenged me to become the person I am today. Because of this experience, I then chose to become a graduate. I learnt how NCS was run, organised and it gave me the chance to be a mentor to different groups improving my leadership, team work and their NCS experience. And it gave me an insight into my future opportunities.”
A recent graduate from Littlehampton said: “NCS I could easily say changed my life; I made friends I don’t think I would have made if I didn’t go. I took part in activities I would have never thought of taking part in and I became a more confident person in myself and all this is thanks to the NCS programme and the challenges they threw at me. I would recommend NCS to anyone and everyone; it’s such a fun experience that lets you build character for yourself and face things you wouldn’t normally face. I owe a lot to NCS and I couldn’t be happier to continue helping by volunteering to make other young people’s lives that bit more fun and adventurous.”
Recent activities range from helping renovate Stedham campsite, owned by the Midhurst Youth Trust and used by youth groups, including schools, to clearing the rooms at the Bognor Regis 39 Youth Club. Participants have also helped renovate and improve the appearance of the Arundel Lido complex.