Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Grasp the chance to make a difference in your community with NCS - McCausland

Stormont Executive press release - Department for Social Development

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland is calling on 15-17 year olds in Northern Ireland to consider National Citizen Service.

Seven hundred places are available in total on the programmes which will run in autumn this year and in summer 2014.

National Citizen Service (NCS) is designed to give teenagers the chance to build skills for work and life. The programme focuses on personal and social development by providing opportunities for young people to mix and work with others from different backgrounds. NCS has a strong cross–community focus with participants coming from both rural and urban areas across Northern Ireland. It also offers young people the chance to participate in an exciting team building residential outside of term time and to take part in a teamwork project that will help their local community.

Calling on young people to sign up for National Citizen Service, the Minister McCausland said: “NCS gives young people the chance to make a real difference in their local communities while learning valuable skills to improve their training and future job prospects. The programme offers a range of opportunities for 15-17 year olds to develop outside their comfort zone including a residential element, while making new friends at the same time.

“By taking part in team projects with other young people from different backgrounds, they can increase their self confidence and strengthen the bonds between different communities. Young people will also be able to apply their new skills to everyday life in their communities to the benefit of all and enrich the quality of life for not only their families and themselves but a range of worthy organisations in their local area.”

Confirming the successful bidder to run National Citizen Service in Northern Ireland, the Minister continued: “I am pleased that a consortium of voluntary sector bodies led by Co-operation Ireland will deliver NCS in 2013 and 2014. Their experience from running the pilot last year will prove invaluable in delivering the new programme. I am very proud of the 2012 pilot which saw 250 teenagers get involved in social action projects with local communities.”

Minister McCausland concluded: “With a total of 700 places up for grabs the new programme offers a very exciting prospect for our young people and will run this autumn and in summer 2014. I have high expectations regarding the impact it could have upon the social and practical skill base of participants.

“I want to renew my call to anyone aged 15-17, who is keen to widen their horizons and make a positive contribution to their local community to seriously consider applying for National Citizen Service.”

Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society also commented: "Young people love NCS because of the chance to make new friends, do something very positive for their community and learn valuable skills that will help them get ahead. We want every 16-year-old in Northern Ireland to have this opportunity."

Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive at Co-operation Ireland said: “I am delighted that Co-operation Ireland has been appointed for the second time by the Department for Social Development to deliver National Citizen Service in Northern Ireland. We are thrilled to be working once again with a great team of partner organisations. Together we want to build on the success of last year’s project, success that manifested itself in more confident and resourceful young people who made great strides in improving their own lives and in giving back to their local areas.

Lucy-Jayne Moore, a successful participant from the Coleraine Team in last year’s pilot has described her experience as, “Every day was a challenging one but drew everyone closer. Definitely an experience of a lifetime. I would definitely recommend any young person to take part.”

Young people aged 15-17 years can sign up to do National Citizen Service in Northern Ireland at http://www.ncsyes.co.uk. More information is also available at: http://www.cooperationireland.org

Notes to editors:

1. Participants in National Citizenship Service (NCS) will work in teams to find solutions to local problems or issues that matter to them and will then run a project in their local community with their teammates. Last year in Northern Ireland, NCS teams gave back to their communities through a range of innovative projects designed by the young people themselves, from a sponsored space hop for a local charity to a bullying awareness campaign.

2. NCS will end with an exciting fundraising challenge – the marathon urban sports challenge – as well as a graduation ceremony to celebrate the achievements of the young people. The programme enables young people to develop important skills in teamwork, communication and planning, that they can take with them into the world of work.

3. The preliminary feedback report by NatCen Social Research of the 2012 NCS pilot showed that the young people who took part felt strongly that:

-They got the chance to know people they wouldn’t normally mix with 92%
--They felt more positive towards people from different backgrounds to themselves 81%
-They got a chance to develop skills which will be useful in the future 84%
-They saw that there were more opportunities available than they had previously realised 80%
-They now were more likely to help out in local area 77%
-They felt proud of what they had achieved 95%.