The National Citizen Service (NCS) programme set up camp in Manchester’s city centre today, Saturday 7 May, to raise awareness of their summer programme for 15 to 17 year olds in the city. The programme is run to essentially get 15 to 17 year olds to learn new skills in preparation for becoming better members of society.
Organised and facilitated by The Challenge, the event had a live band, a mini snooker pitch, jumping castle, stalls, games, exercises and much more.
The Challenge is a leading UK charity, working towards building a more integrated society. With its focal point on a local level, the charity’s aim is “to bring together people from all ages, ethnicities and walks of life, connecting communities and building trust”.
While “NCS has been running in Manchester since 2011, The Challenge has helped these events for about 3 years”, Melissa Chedd, NCS’ Engagement Coordinator told TNT.
The government-funded summer scheme has around 2,820 young people across Greater Manchester signed-up to get involved this summer, with more across the UK. “The programme involves outdoor activities, water sports, abseiling, a stay at a university – where these young people get their independent living skills”, 24-year-old Melissa, explained.
Although NCS being hands-on in the developmental schemes for the young people that sign up to the programme, another aspect of the programme is the ‘social action project’. Melissa added, “This is whereby they work in their communities to pitch and deliver a campaign to local CEOs, business people in the 3-week-long programme”.
The overall mission of the charity is social integration and personal development as well. From 1pm to 4pm, on a bright Saturday afternoon, the taster event saw groups of young people converge behind the Manchester Cathedral near the Hanging Ditch, where the event was held.
Saturday’s event was free, but to sign up to the summer programme, the maximum price is £50 “although we do bursaries”. Collaborating with other organisations and local businesses, the NCS helps young people “learn entrepreneurial skills and fundraise for worth-while causes”.
With a ‘just say yes’ slogan, the NCS’ aims to get people “out of their comfort zone. All these 16-year-olds are always in a bubble, meet the same people”, Melissa outlined.
According the NCS, Manchester has been the city with the best response to the programme. Associate Sales Manager for The Challenge in Manchester, Ashley Pembery also told TNT that “The Challenge created this [programme] 5 years ago. It got created and then the government said this is amazing, we want to make it national. So NCS are the Trust from the government who now fund it nationally. The Challenge are the UK’s largest provider of NCS”.
Providing over 35,000 spaces for young people across the UK this year alone, The Challenge also covers Bury, Rochdale, Wigan, Tameside, Oldham in getting young people into the scheme.
“We have spoken to about 18,000 young people. We’ve gone into schools, about 400 assemblies, we also do PSHE lessons, tutorials, activities; anything that the school wants us to get involved with”, Ashley added.
Summing up the event, the 28-year-old from South Manchester cited, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for 15 to 17 year olds to socially integrate with their local community”.
To sign up for the summer programme, head over to ncsthechallenge.org
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri