National Citizen Service: A personal perspective regarding falling short of bridging a service for young people.

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National Citizen Service: A personal perspective regarding falling short of bridging a service for young people.

Love it or hate it the National Citizen Service (NCS) seems to be with us for the long haul and employment opportunities for this service are growing as Google search under youth work jobs will prove, opposed to the more understood concept of youth work.

The NCS program championed by David Cameron is set to become, ‘compulsory’ (Wildman, 2016) for fifteen to seventeen-year-olds to take part.

A three to four-week program that focuses on developing the group, communication and leading skills as well as demonstrating project planning and delivery by raising money for not for profit organisations, as well as the more familiar confidence growing and challenging fears.

In theory, the concept sounds positive resulting in young people being able to detail their experience and new found skills on their CV’s for future employment, therefore, more akin and somewhat watered down version of, ‘national service’ (Ibid) of yesteryear.

Furthermore, the NCS program seemingly plays a part within the prevent strategy by encouraging multicultural group work, however, the reality of this can be far removed from the theoretical ideologies that brought this program in to fruition.

During this period financial cuts have been made to local councils who have targeted non-statutory services such as the youth service.

Essentially, a service that caters for young people between the ages of thirteen to eighteen-year-olds providing somewhere safe for these people to express themselves, spend time with their friends and learn new skills as well as discuss individual concerns with professionals that can guide them through the many obstacles adolescence face.

During my short time being a youth worker  as a student I have spoken with young people who have explained that their youth club as provided them with a positive transition from a life on the streets and in gangs to attending college and pursuing their dreams, a stark contrast to the articles I currently notice surrounding young people hanging around street corners somewhat forgotten about.

Therefore, combining my understanding and first-hand experience with the NCS program and the demise of the youth service it has led me to question the overall usefulness of such a program.

  • The age range, in my opinion, is too limited which raises the question surrounding how younger people can access a service that will encourage, promote, discuss and develop them.
  • The length of time that will be spent with young people under the NCS program is severely limited, reducing the chance to develop those important relationships necessary to focus on development for that young person.
  • Those young people who are disadvantaged or disengaged, who would greatly benefit from the program can be overlooked in favour of those young people who are in education, who have a future. This was my experience when the program was promoted, mainly aimed at attending colleges and high schools. It is much easier to generate a positive team environment when those young people are already actively involved in team working.
  • A relatively strict program is followed leaving little opportunity to work through any problems or development that the young person requires.

The staff are not always qualified youth workers resulting in a diminished and an unprofessional service.

  • The overuse of the NCS program and the more young people that engage with it raises concerns for me, questioning how valuable this will become on CV’s. The drive for all young people to take part could demoralise the value of the program when searching for employment. Also, those that are disengaged could find themselves further removed from society as a consequence.

In addition to the points made above it is difficult to understand how this program receives so much funding, an estimated £355 million a year even though the scope of this program is far more limited, the Guardian newspaper stated, ‘more than the Government spends on all other youth services in England’.

I find it difficult to understand how this money can be generated when cuts are being made to an already successful and valued service, surely it would have made more sense to invest this money into an already established youth service.

I feel that the NCS program has created a larger void for young people and together with funding cuts abandoned those vulnerable young people severely and who would benefit greatly from a youth service.

By Martin Andrew


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