We’ve been speaking to James Pratt about his volunteering. James is a Leeds Beckett Film Making student who is involved with Be TV and is also a team leader for the National Citizenship Service. So, here’s everything you need to know.
What did James tell us about the National Citizenship Service project and what it does?
The National citizenship service began as a government scheme back in 2011 and was designed to get young (16-17) people out and about by giving back to/improving their local community. So around 200,000 young people have been to the programme since it started and it has multi party support.
The programme involves 3 different phases:
Phase 1 is the adventure phase and allows the young people to get involved with an outward bound centre. This part helps them face their fears like heights, water and being away from home. It also creates a group of 15 or so young people who only really know one other person within the team and forces them to become friends and socially mix with people from different backgrounds then their own.
Phase 2 is set in a university environment. UFA (University of the First Age), the delivery partner I work for, use Sunderland university, but different partners end up using different universities. This phase is to help the young people have increased responsibility, with minor tasks such as making their own lunch every night. They also begin to think about the problems within their local community.
Phase 3 is the planning phase. For the social action community, an event is planned or an awareness campaign, band night, or viral video is created. The young people have total control on what they want to do, but it has to make a difference in their local area. This is where they get the chance to give back and get the most of the programme because they are able to really change things and leave a legacy of what they done.
The programme helps people to gain confidence in themselves, overcome fears and develop as adults. It makes a massive difference to practically everyone that has done it.
So, how exactly did James get involved with the project?
He was with UFA and faced his fears of public speaking, developed confidence when being away from home and helped to improve his local area. Him and the others there improved the local area particularly by trying to give locals something to do so as a team, by putting on lessons to teach people their talents, James’s was breakdancing.
James still talks to a lot of the people from his NCS team today. He was able to come back as a staff member by keeping in touch with the leader and staff that ran the programme, and returning the following year as a volunteer, helping to run phase 3.
The following summer, James returned as a Team assistant and was able to try and give the great experience that he was given. He developed his interpersonal skills even more as a staff member as the position taught him leadership skills, how to control crowds and how to communicate effectively with college in to deliver the best programme possible. James kept working for them and he recently became a Team Leader, which presented him with even more exciting challenges to overcome.
What are some of the impacts on the people who get involved with the project?
James believes that it is one of the best things for 16 and 17 year olds to do. It really gives young people a platform to make where they live a better location, the chance to have fun, and allows them to give back to area that they grew up in. The feedback James gets from the programme every year is so positive, both from the young people and carers. Parents have praised James for giving their children newfound confidence from the project. He said that the smiles on the faces of those participating is amazing feedback and is one of the biggest inspirations for himself when he is working there.
What would you James say to anyone thinking of volunteering?
DO IT And DO IT NOW. He couldn’t give the programme enough praise. If you are 16-17 you won’t regret joining on as a young person. The staff up and down the country are amazing. If you are 18+, you can sign up for a job over the summer.
Go to NCSYES.co.uk, to find out who your local delivery partner is. Sign up and have a blast.
For more information on the programme go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/get-involved/take-part/national-citizen-service