What is the NCS?
It’s a three-week volunteering opportunity for 16 to 17 year-olds that enables you to meet new people, develop loads of those all-important ‘employability’ skills, as well as give back to your community.
The NCS is a national government-funded scheme to help young people build employment-friendly skills, give back to their community, and generally just become more well-rounded and err… nicer.
What does the NCS involve?
It initially takes three solid weeks, two of these living away from home. And then you complete another 30 hours of volunteering work. Here’s how it works:
First week – You get to escape your home and spend the week away doing outdoor activities, such as rafting and rock-climbing while meeting new people.
Second week – You go back to your local town, but not your family home. Instead, you’ll be put up in a hostel or uni halls of residence. In a group, you’ll spend time learning about your local community and start planning what project you could devise to help it out.
Third week – You meet your group every day to plan your project and work out how you’re going to deliver it.
Then you’ve got 30 hours (not all at once) to put your plan into action.
Your community project could be almost anything, including: fundraising for a local charity, helping out at an old folks’ home, removing graffiti or clearing up a park. Whatever you think your local community needs.
What’s the NCS like?
Linda Sarfo-Gyamsi, 17, took part in NCS last summer. “I had so much fun. The summer after exams is so long, but I made loads of friends and did lots of cool stuff rather than just hanging about,” she says.
Linda and her group decided to help the homeless. “We hosted a huge sleep out to raise money for and awareness of homelessness. It was freezing cold and I didn’t get any sleep, but it was great fun and we raised over £500.”
Who can take part in the NCS?
ANYONE in England between the ages of 16 and 17. If you have a disability, you can take part if you are 16 or 17, and in some cases up to the age of 25. Unfortunately, it’s only available in England. But if you’re Welsh, Scottish or Irish and fancy volunteering, check out local opportunities on do-it.org.
Do I have to pay to do the NCS?
NCS providers ask for a small contribution towards the cost of taking part (never more than £50). This covers your travel, food, accommodation, EVERYTHING. There is financial support available if you are unable to afford this – your local provider can tell you about the bursaries available.
How do I apply to get onto the NCS?
You can apply through the NCS website. They’ll ask you to fill in your details and then will let you know who your local provider is. There are over 100 providers all over England, so chances are they’ll be one near you.
What will I get out of it?
Apart from saving you from the boredom of a long, and no-doubt rainy British summer, you’ll get to meet tons of new people, which is a great confidence booster before starting college/university/new job. All that project planning gives you great skills to bung on your CV. Plus, employers adore seeing ‘volunteering’ on an application form, which puts you in good stead, too. But, most importantly, you’re giving back. OK, so this sounds utterly naff but, from a selfish point of view, it makes you feel generally INCREDIBLE inside and sorta like a superhero.
“What I enjoyed most was getting to know my community better,” says Linda. “I actually know my neighbours now. I learnt loads of skills to put on my CV, but I also made loads of friends who I still meet up with now. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.”
By Holly Bourne
Updated on 02-May-2013