Tess talked on Monday about her participation in National Citizenship Service:
As some of you may know, I went on NCS in the summer. NCS stands for: National Citizenship Service, which is a government-funded programme. I spent four weeks with hundreds of other people my age: little did I know some were to become life-long friends. The programme consists of four weeks during your post-GCSEs summer that costs around £50. A lot of people are put off by the four-week duration, but I can honestly say I loved every moment of it, and the time went too quickly.
Week one is adventure week, where you camp for four nights and do outdoor activities, such as rock climbing and canoeing. The second week is spent in Stafford University, where you live like students on a budget: my favourite by far. The two remaining weeks are for your Social Action Project. In your designated group you come up with ideas on how to raise money for any local charity of your choice and make it happen. For example, in my group there were two autistic people, so we chose a local charity that was close to their hearts. We raised nearly £1000 by doing: a cake sale, a sponsored walk up the Wrekin, a bag pack and a raffle.
When I signed up to take part in NCS I never thought that it would make me into a better person, however it has. The experiences take you out of your comfort zone and challenge you. Not only do you make new friends and memories, but you also give something back to the community: and that in itself is very rewarding. As Wrekinians, we are very privileged, and to do something for others can be eye-opening and gratifying.
NCS is not just for the summer. For me it has opened doors that I did not know existed. I applied for NCS Kickstart, but out of 1500 applicants only 300 people were selected, and I was lucky enough to be one of them. This was a second residential experience, which took place in October half term. People from all over the UK went to Stafford and stayed there for four days. There were people from Devon, Leeds, London and Northern Ireland, to name a few of the places. This was at no expense to us. We were there to brainstorm ideas about the future of NCS in our areas. I am now on the West Midlands Regional NCS Youth Board. As the only person from Telford, I represented our region and so I am now the Chair of the Telford Local Youth Board. We do several Social Action Projects and raise as much money for local charities as we can.
My journey with NCS did not just stop last summer. I am so thankful it did not, as I would never have met such amazing people. I can now say that I have made very close Irish friends who I wish to visit in holidays and I have a new best friend from Leeds called Laura, who was my roomie.
With the local NCS Youth Board, I am raising money and donations for our event: ‘Seasons Greetings’. This is for less fortunate people at Christmas time, for those who cannot have a Christmas dinner. There will be a collection point outside Mrs Clarke’s office where you can drop off selection boxes or if you would prefer to donate some money, you should place it in an envelope and pop it under her office door. It would mean so much to me, if we could make someone smile on Christmas Day.