Young people from St Albans and Hertsmere demonstrate their community spirit during their summer holidays with Hertfordshire County Council’s youth service, YC Hertfordshire

10 September 2018

496 young people from St Albans and Hertsmere took part in this summer’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programme, equipping them with the vital skills and confidence needed as they approach adulthood.

The 16- and 17-year-olds completed a week at outdoor activity centres, followed by a further week’s residential stay at the University of Hertfordshire’s campus.

During these two weeks, the young people learnt key skills including communication and listening skills, leadership, negotiation, and decision-making.

The young people took part in discussions on a range of subjects including mental health, careers, living independently and homelessness.

They also completed First Aid training and a Deaf Awareness course which taught them basic sign language.

The final part of the programme saw the young people split into groups to plan and implement a social action project, giving the opportunity to really make an impact in their local community.

The groups identified a range of local community organisations which would benefit from their help. These included:

  • Raising awareness of disadvantaged children and the work of the charity the Children’s Society
  • Organising Fit and Fed sessions for children who are isolated or disadvantaged over the school holidays
  • Volunteering at a local foodbank and helping to distribute food parcels to those in need, as well as holding a mini-market at Verulamium Park to collect foodbank donations from members of the public.
  • Raising awareness and increasing knowledge of multiple sclerosis and the work of the MS Society by giving out information in their local community.
  • Supporting Cardboard Citizens, a theatre company based in Whitechapel that aims to change the lives of homeless people by being a creative hub for excluded people. The young people attended Verulamium Park to set up a mini-market of information stalls and chat with members of the public. They also decorated and hid rocks around the local area and created hashtag campaigns to promote their cause.

The young people who took part said:

“It was a great learning experience, learning how to get along with people and overcoming fears. NCS is accessible to everyone”. – Tomi, 15

“I’ve been so preoccupied with myself and the routines of life; study, eat, revise, sleep, then do it all again the next day. I thought I would be going to university and then sit at a desk in an office somewhere.  This experience allows you to live in the moment and has made me re-evaluate what I want to do in my future.  I want to do what’s best for me”. -  Freddie, 15.

“NCS is great for meeting new people and exposing yourself to lots of things you’d never normally get a chance to do.” - Krystal, 16.