fbpx The NCS Experience... - London Youth

12 August 2013

12 August 2013

The National Citizens Service (NCS) is a programme funded by the Cabinet Office which seeks to recognise the value of a summer holiday experience in developing young people’s confidence, character and commitment to social action.

In 2012 London Youth partnered up with The Challenge Network to support the delivery of The Challenge programme in the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. The Challenge is an intense, part-residential programme for 15-17 year olds, beginning with three challenges which take place over three weeks, followed by a social action weekend based in local communities. We successfully set up and ran the programme in 2012 with 150 young people who came together to challenge themselves in a wide variety of experiences and make a mark in their local communities. In 2013 we have continued this work in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, and additionally in Haringey, to deliver the programme to 360 young people across these boroughs. 

Through summer programmes like these young people develop confidence and agency, resilience and determination and they strengthen their leadership skills and personal relationships.

As well as being a development opportunity for young people, some London Youth staff have also supported delivery of the programme and have found it an inspiring experience. Storm Lawrence, who works in London Youth’s Programmes Team shares her personal take on how it was for her…

 Some of you might know that for a couple of weeks I have transformed from Programmes Assistant to a Challenge Senior Mentor.

I have recently been tackling my inner Indiana Jones for the last few days on The Personal Challenge at Hindleap Warren. And I have to say I have probably had more fun than the young people. Just to give you a taster on what it is like on the ground….

My group’s first big challenge was the 17km expedition to the campsite at the Weirwood Resevoir. Surprisingly the young people got on with it with few complaints and gradually (after a bit of silence at the beginning) started to bond. They were not so happy (especially the boys!) with the lovely creepy crawlies however, which included beetles, spiders and flies. Luckily the adders gave our tents a miss this time. I'm telling you, it was not easy pretending I couldn't care less about the beetles roaming around in my own tent.

The next day, after a camp breakfast we went rock climbing. You could really see how much the team had already bonded in just one day. They all supported and guided each other through each climb. The determination that they all had to conquer their fears was truly inspiring.

On the third day it was finally time to fling ourselves from high places in the Hindleap grounds, developing their teamwork skills with problem solving exercises, and then getting a little competitive for the team challenge against the other four teams on The Challenge this wave.

I really got to see how all the young people had grown in confidence and trust towards one another each day that passed, particularly during the evening sessions. These quickly became very personal to them, all sharing their personal experiences, some of which were difficult things for them to talk about. You could definitely see the value in everything they were participating in and how proud they were of what they had achieved.

None of this would be possible without all those who have worked so hard this summer. Well done to London Youth's staff team working on The Challenge who have worked hard to get young people from different backgrounds and experiences together to run a successful programme. It has been a hectic summer for all of you, but you have done a fantastic job!

A massive thanks and well done to all the staff down at Hindleap Warren too! I feel so lucky to have been able to stay at Hindleap for a longer timeframe to see how hard they all work. My wave's staff team spoke very highly of all of them. My team and I felt really supported by Dave whilst able to joke and have a laugh with him – not to mention that he helped me get through the activities so I didn’t embarrass myself too much in front of the young people!

So a big thank you to everyone who has been a part of delivering The Challenge with London Youth in 2013. I can honestly tell you that you are making a huge difference to a massive amount of young people. We had an awesome time and are now ready for the Team Challenge!

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