Photographer of Families, Small People and Delightful Places. Travel and Lifestyle Writer and Blogger. Lives in Newcastle, Loves the North, Often Accompanied By A Beagle Named Holly Bobbins

Monday, April 16, 2018

Signing My Teen Up For The National Citizen Service




Abigail, aged nearly 16 off to do the NCS this summer, mandy charlton, photographer, blogger, writer, national citizen service


Abigail, not known for sitting around and lounging about has decided that this year after finishing her GCSE's that she's going to do the National Citizen Service, or NCS, in fact she's already signed up for it, but what actually is it?  It seems teens know the most about it so I took some time to ask her some questions about it last week.

What is the National Citizen Service?

"NCS is a government backed programme established in 2011 to help build a more cohesive, mobile and engaged society. By bringing together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience, NCS helps them to become better individuals, and in turn better citizens. 

NCS is open to 16 and 17 year-olds across England and Northern Ireland. The two to four week programme, which takes place in school holidays, includes outdoor team-building exercises, a residential for participants to learn ‘life skills’, a community-based social action project and an end of programme celebration event.

At a time of huge political uncertainty, where division is more evident than togetherness, NCS is a powerful tool to ensure the next generation see more in their similarities than differences.

In a nutshell, the programme:


  1. Puts young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zones and develop their strength of character.
  2. Provides a progressive journey that hands over more responsibility to young people as the programme progresses and develops leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.
  3. Enables young people to connect with their communities through social action. 

To date: 

  1. Almost 400,000 young people have taken part
  2. More than seven million hours of community action have been completed
  3. For every £1 spent, NCS’ 2016 summer programme delivered between £1.15 and £2.42 of benefits back to society
NCS is amazing value for money. The whole experience including food, accommodation and travel costs just £50 and bursaries are available on a case by case basis. Support is also provided for young people with additional needs."


My teen girls, Abigail is old enough this year to do the NCS, Mandy Charlton, Photographer, Writer, Blogger


Okay, so that's the official blurb but I asked Abigail why she would want to spend her summer holidays doing this, it is after all 4 weeks out of a teens life and that means they're going to lose a lot of sleep, you know how they love sleeping in until 4pm.

She told me though that it's going to be something else she can add to her CV, I joked that she might already have enough things like working for Unicef and being a youth MP and leading the debate in Parliament last November, seriously my CV is never going to be as impressive as that though.

She also told me that they spend time at an outward bounds type of place where they can do rock climbing, abseiling, basically a week of adrenaline fuelled activities and the kind of thing she'd never get to do with me because my alias is Scare D Cat.

So that's basically the first stage which is called Adventure (the course is split into 4 weeks and 4 distinct stages.

Stage 2 is Discovery and this is where your teen will learn new skills, things they can add to their CV but also fun things, I noted photography and editing, I wonder if I can get her trained up, I even read that it might help you learn skills you could use to start your own business.  This stage takes place in a university style setting so she's going to be staying in dorms with friends, in fact she's sharing with one of her best friends who's also doing NCS this summer.

Then we're on to Stage 3 which is Social Action so they're going to be in teams in the community making a difference to other people's lives, this makes me so proud as a mama that she won't just be spending the summer sleeping!

Finally we have stage 4 which is Celebration and this is where our beloved teens celebrate their achievements and in doing so they unlock cool rewards, discounts and even get exclusive access to the best volunteering opportunities.

I have no doubt in my mind that the NCS is going to add so much value to Abigail's life and when Looby is the equivalent of year 11 (obviously being home educated we don't have the same structure) there's no doubt that I'll be encouraging her to do it too.  They're both very different teenagers but the NCS caters for that and it's basically the teens who are in control of the things they want to do (with a little guidance).

I think as a parent school holidays can be so costly so £50 for all of the travel, accommodation and meals is quite simply the best use of a parents money this summer, I can tell you from my experience a summer of bored teens at home is a costly experience for the Bank of Mum.

I'm really looking forward to Abigail doing the NCS this year, we'll be going on holiday when she's finished her exams so it's not like she's going to miss out on that and then she'll be off on her special adventures for the rest of the summer.

To take part in the NCS teens must be at least 16 years old by the 31st August in the year they're doing it so they can essentially do it when they're 15 as long as they'll be 16 by the end of August.  Looby's birthday being in September means she'll be nearly 17 by the time she does it.
There are still places available for Year 11s to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity this summer. To sign up now, go to the NCS website. use this link

This is a collaborative post with the NCS.
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