National Citizen Service in West Sussex
West Sussex County Times Article
This week in the House of Commons I was pleased to see the National Citizen Service Bill receive its Second Reading.
The Bill will grant NCS a Royal Charter and place it on a permanent statutory footing, allowing future generations of young people to benefit from this terrific programme.
NCS is a scheme which brings together 15-17 year olds from all backgrounds where they share a month-long experience. The programme takes them beyond their comfort zones in the great outdoors, to develop important life skills, and work together to plan and deliver a project to make a difference in their community.
Since the first pilot schemes in 2009, over 300,000 teenagers across Britain have taken part in the scheme.
This makes it the fastest growing youth movement since Baden-Powell founded the Scouts in 1907, and so far it has delivered over 8 million hours of youth volunteering.
Its motivating spirit is the same inspiring mix of selflessness, community awareness and self-starting attitudes encouraged by President Kennedy’s Peace Corps initiative in 1961.
Between 2011 and the spring of 2015, over 600 young people from West Sussex participated in the scheme, learning teamwork skills whilst also developing a sense of initiative and civic engagement.
An example of a project in Arun & Chichester District was the ‘Lessons4Life’ campaign, in which 14 young people taught over 100 of their fellow teenagers essential skills such as ironing, first aid, changing a fuse and basic personal finance.
I’ve always thought that the NCS was one of David Cameron’s best initiatives. It is no coincidence that his first job after stepping down as Prime Minister has been to chair a panel of expert patrons to support the NCS Trust, from where he hopes to develop the initiative further into a national ‘rite of passage’.
A couple of years ago I attended a local awards ceremony held in Walberton and was able to see how much the scheme does for participants.
The enthusiasm and community spirit of these young people, many of who had made new friends from the programme, was infectious and their experience highlighted for me the real value of the scheme.
In my constituency NCS has been ably directed by West Sussex County Council. I know they are always keen for more volunteers and I would encourage readers to recommend the scheme to any teenagers that may be interested.
If you would like to get in touch with me, please write to me at the House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or e-mail me at email@example.com.