17 AUG 2017

National Citizens Service

Kent Messenger Column - 17-08-17

Dragons' Den panellists conjure a vision of beasts of business inflicting savage critiques upon aspiring entrepreneurs. Exhaling fire isn't my thing really but this was not the BBC show either.

I was invited to attend the Dragons' Den phase of the National Citizens Service (NCS) programme in Maidstone, alongside KCC Cabinet Member for Young People, Roger Gough. We were there to offer feedback and guidance on group presentations from 100 Maidstone teenagers who'd put together ideas for raising funds for Maidstone Charities.

Their 'social action plans' form just a part of the four-week summer holiday NCS course where 15-17 year olds from all backgrounds come together for a shared experience. Living away from home, they participate in a range of workshops, site visits and outdoor activities, helping them develop the skills needed to deliver their social action project.

I was so impressed with the standard of presentation, the confidence, teamwork and general togetherness of these groups. It was clear a lot of bonding had taken place over the course and I suspect some of the friendships formed will last a lifetime.

The core of the NCS scheme is to address some of the most urgent challenges in British society today: social cohesion, civic engagement and social mobility. As a result of this course these young people feel more equipped to tackle social problems, become better leaders, are more confident about finding a job, and feel more positive towards other young people from different backgrounds.

Over the past three years NCS Maidstone has hosted almost 200 participants who have collectively donated more than 6,000 volunteering hours to their local community. In the process they have built valuable and often lasting relationships with important local organisations and charities.

I commend the charities www.CXK.org and www.catch-22.org.uk for delivering the excellent NCS programme in my constituency. If you want to find out more click here.

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