This summer over 100 young people living in Crawley area had a chance to take part in National Citizen Service programme delivered by YMCA DLG. The main aim of the NCS programme is to offer young people from different backgrounds a chance to take part in meaningful activities that will improve their social skills, increase awareness and give them a summer to remember.
The young people spend half of the four week programme on a residential and the other two weeks are for planning and delivering a community project. During the first week the young people went to the Isle of Wight staying in Kingswood Centre where trained instructors delivered a wide range of activities such as ‘leap of faith’, gokarting, going around an obstacle course blindfolded, archery, fencing, wood craft skills and a giant swing. The activities were designed to help the young people develop team working skills and learn how to overcome challenges and face personal fears.
Exhausted but happy after the first week, the young people returned home to prepare for the next residential, this time happening closer to home at the University of Sussex. During the week the young people had a chance to get a taste of university life and they also visited a number of local organisations and charities. This was an opportunity for them to learn what goes on in the local community and also choose a cause for their social action project. During this week the young people also did some volunteering, took part in mediation sessions and a drumming workshop and heard a seaside safety talk from Brighton and Hove Council.
The social action project is an important part of the NCS experience and the young people had just two weeks for preparing, planning and delivery so it was all hands on deck to do it in time. The young people had to project manage, communicate clearly and listen to what the charities wanted, they needed to work out the logistics and most importantly work as a team. Their group leaders and support workers were on hand for guidance but the young people were empowered to plan and deliver the project themselves.
The young people worked hard and managed to raise over £3000 for their community projects. Some of of the organisations that benefited from the NCS social action projects were The Olive Tree, St Catherines Hospice, Southwell Lodge, Rivers Learning Project Community, Horsham Y Centre, Crawley foyer and Chestnut Treehouse. The NCS participants built a garden green house at our own Horsham Y Centre and painted a wall mural and redesigned the residents’ lounge at the Crawley Foyer.