For our iFAQ this week, we decided to ask councillors, smaller parties, and other relevant stakeholders for their views on what National Citizen Service does for Medway. Partly because we’re two middle aged guys who know very little about the NCS, and partly because it’s been in the news a bit recently.
As usual, we told all of them that we would publish their responses unedited. You can find them below in the order they were received.
How effective is the National Citizen Service, and what does it have to offer for young people in Medway?
I hold a very strong positive view on NCS and what it has to offer for young people in Medway. I would say the best feature of NCS is it’s principle of social mix. In Medway young people will be put into teams for the whole programme with people from a variety of backgrounds, different classes, cultures etc. This social mix builds a greater tolerance and acceptance of people within the community which helps to foster greater cohesion. It offers the chance to build confidence and make new friends but also to make a positive difference to your community. Young people will fund raise for and complete a social action project which helps develop the skills you simply are not taught in school. It is this what makes NCS effective, it has a great benefit for young people but also to the wider community. Another skill taught which makes NCS effective is the political awareness activities, it is this very opportunity that led me to become involved in MYC. Political education in school is weak at best so to have NCS teach the necessary skills for adult life means it is a very effective programme.
Thomas Baldock, Chair, Medway Youth Council
Four of my children applied for NCS and two of them have completed a programme they in my opinion had fun,made new friends and grew as youths in confidence, enthusiasm and leadership skills. I am sure that my oldest son got a place at a Russel group university not just because of his A-level results but due to the people skills and can do culture he gained on the NCS programme.I love the graduations that play to team work and showcase success as well as individual talents.I adore the fact it’s affordable for most and some get support to pay. I loathe the fact NCS international is being cut because I feel our youths who can not afford a gap year get a chance to fund and assist in running a project overseas and get to experience the world where it can be a challenge to an education for example Ghana.I feel our youth are neglected and indeed are the unhappiness in Europe with self harm and social and emotional mental health at epidemic proportions. We need to invest more in them. In the words of Nelson Mandela : . “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” “The power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. It can contribute to nation-building and reconciliation.”
Cllr Joanne Howcroft-Scott, Labour, Luton and Wayfield
The effectiveness of any scheme can only be gauged by those who give up their time,effort and help fund it.But to encourage community spirt and confidence building in young people can only be a good thing
Cllr Ron Sands, Independent, Peninsula
Liberal Democrats support the National Citizen Service (NCS) as an opportunity for young people in the Medway Towns to develop personal and social development skills for work and life. Encouraging them to take on new challenges and meet new friends, an opportunity accessible to all. Being a part of the NCS can be life-changing experience for 16-17 year olds.
Medway has already benefitted from NCS experience, with inspiring social action projects and community-minded young people who choose to spend their summer holidays making a difference for our communities.
Medway Liberal Democrats have participated in the ‘Political Question Time’ panel discussions organised by NCS. The breadth and quality of the questions asked is always impressive and reflects the civic-minded nature of NCS participants.
The NCS has provided a means for young people in our area to meet different people within our community, understand and respect diversity and equality of others by contributing to a wider society and life in Medway. It also encourages young people from different backgrounds and different parts of the Medway area to mix and work together. It is great to see how the NCS is building the confidence, resilience and leadership skills of young people in our towns.
Medway Liberal Democrats
Our understanding of the National Citizen Service is that where it is run well it is very effective for young people. It is about bringing young people together from different backgrounds in order to do something positive for their local community. Through “social action” young people gain skills which employers are looking for such as confidence, communication and team work, but more than that develop empathy and understanding for others. There is a double benefit in that the young people gain skills and confidence but also there are many beneficiaries within the community from the social action projects (such as care home residents and homeless people).
Criticism of the National Citizen Service would come down to funding where it has been increasingly squeezed and less financial support is now available to support young people with additional needs on the programme. It is also increasingly difficult for local providers to be able to run NCS as it is becoming increasingly less financially viable for smaller organisations, which means larger organisations are going to end up doing more of the delivery.
Medway Green Party has been involved in a number of NCS programmes in Medway by attending their Political Question Time Events and Graduations. We have seen for ourselves how well NCS is run by the MY Trust and know that they ensure that there is a social mix of participants including SEN young people, different ethnic backgrounds and looked after children. It is open to all young people in Medway and the MY Trust attempt to go into all schools multiple times across the year, as well as working with other agencies to ensure that it is truly open to all. They work very closely with SEN schools to ensure real inclusion.
More simply, NCS offers all Medway young people an opportunity to do something extremely positive with their summer by taking part in an outdoor activity residential and a community residential at a local university accommodation. They have the opportunity to make friends from different backgrounds, gain new skills, get to know their local community and feel empowered to make a difference.
Medway Green Party
I have been a strong advocate For National Citizen Service since it’s creation. In Medway it has been delivered well by the MY Trust.
It is a voluntary scheme which I think is entirely appropriate rather than making it compulsory.
It would benefit from further supporting focus to ensure those with accessibility issues can take part.
NCS shouldn’t be provided at the expense of other youth services- our young people deserve a wide variety of options and services including NCS.
Cllr Vince Maple, Labour Leader, Chatham Central
We received no response to this iFAQ from any Medway Conservatives or Medway UKIP representatives.