National Citizen Service (NCS) is a youth empowerment programme that gives 16 and 17-year-olds the chance to channel their independent spirit and take their next steps with confidence. NCS takes place over the school holidays in summer, autumn and spring.
Launched in 2011, to date over 200,000 teenagers have taken part in NCS and 3.3 million hours have been dedicated by NCS graduates to social action projects, helping to improve their local communities. On NCS, participants build skills for work and life, while taking on new challenges and adventures, building confidence and making friends for life.
Government backing means the most you will ever pay for NCS is £50 for the whole experience, including food, activities… everything!
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On NCS, you learn those intangible skills that employers are increasingly looking for: confidence, teamwork and leadership.
Is your teenager looking to apply for university? NCS is UCAS-accredited; the skills and experience are invaluable in taking those next steps.
Just like university, your teenager will interact with young people from different backgrounds and make friends for life.
The government invests more than £1,000 per place, which is why NCS will cost you only £50 with no hidden extras.
Together, NCS participants plan a social action project, then roll up their sleeves and make a difference in their community.
“Teenagers need opportunities to shine, and that’s exactly what NCS gave my daughter Frieda in 2011. I was initially sceptical that anything so good could be available for £50, but once I found out more about NCS at a parents’ evening I was reassured. I realised she’d be learning loads of skills rather than being bored at home.
“Teenagers need opportunities to shine, and that’s exactly what NCS gave my daughter.“
Frieda had a fantastic time, mixing with young people from diverse backgrounds. She came back happy and walking tall. I’d tell all parents to get behind their kids and say yes to NCS – it’s great value for money.”
Adventure – up to three days and four nights at an outdoor centre, taking part in activities like rock-climbing, canoeing, hiking and archery.
Skills – in week two, NCSers stay in university-style accommodation, hanging out with their new buddies and with any luck, honing their cooking skills!
Making a difference – NCSers design a social action in the community and spend up to 60 hours putting it into practice.
Graduation – After a big celebration party, your teen is now part of the NCS family, opening up a world of opportunities, events, rewards and support as they take their first steps on the career ladder.
NCS is delivered across England and Northern Ireland by a network of experienced youth and community organisations including charities, college consortia, voluntary, community, social enterprises (VCSE) and private sector partnerships.
NCS staff are DBS checked (previously CRB) and have the appropriate training to work with young people. All activities are comprehensively risk-assessed and overseen by carefully selected and trained instructors and mentors. The programme is quality assured locally and nationally.
Our shorter autumn and spring programmes can take place at any point during the autumn or spring terms, including half-term. Please email us here with your area details and we’ll put you in touch with your local provider for more details.
Your teenager can register their interest to participate either during a presentation on NCS by their local providers in a Year 11 or 12 school/college presentation or by entering their details here. Once registration is complete, they’ll be contacted by their local NCS provider.
Father of Aria Shahrokhshahi
I’ve always wanted my son to have interests and have experiences that take place outside of school and from a young age I took him to judo, karate, tennis, swimming, Scouts…. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge believer in education, I’m a physics teacher, but I also believe in the enormous value of extracurricular activities. Skills developed outside the classroom will help people sail through life, and I’ve always taken them seriously too.
I heard about NCS when the team came to give a presentation to the school I teach at. It sounded like an amazing opportunity so I encouraged as many students as I could to give it a go. I did exactly the same with Aria when he turned 16. Having seen a number of young people go through the programme I can honestly say, I can’t find a bad word to say about it. Nor am I ashamed to say that at one stage, Aria was asked to leave the programme. (He broke one of the ground rules.) Of course I was disappointed, but they were absolutely right to ask him to do so.
But he repeatedly asked to stay, apologised, and assured them it wouldn’t happen again. And so they agreed. And that’s when my belief in the programme soared. Why? Because that was the point at which I realised that heart and compassion characterise NCS. The team leaders treat young people as individuals, they show them understanding and respect, and I can honestly see the difference it made to Aria.
Watching his team come together to create and deliver a community project was a pure joy. They came alive with a sense of purpose, pride and responsibility. And the comradeship between them exists to this day.
Aria himself credits the experience with helping to mature his outlook on life, he’s since gone on to become an active member of Nottingham City Youth Cabinet (which he heard about whilst on the programme), and he also went on to exceed all of our expectations in his maths GCSE...
Mother of Robert Austin
I didn’t have much knowledge of NCS before my son asked if he could participate in the programme, but once he explained what NCS actually was and what he’d be doing on it I was more than happy to send him. Plus for £50 for the whole programme it was amazing value for money too.
Before going on NCS I felt that the biggest challenge that Robert would face was working in big groups due to his lack of confidence and shyness working outside his friendship group – plus he had to do all that without his phone for the residential week(s)! I was so glad to be proved wrong though. Since he came back from NCS Robert has changed in so many ways - he went away a child and came back a man. His confidence grew over the first residential week, and after he finished the programme I was overwhelmed to hear that he was setting up his own social action project which has now grown into an amazing website called www.teenwise.org.uk which aims to help fight all of the negative stereotypes that teenagers like Robert face – I’m so proud of him. The change has been wonderful; it’s something that a parent only hopes to witness, their child growing into a better person.
His communication skills grew and grew, he’s now able to communicate with others in different environments and situations, where as he was unable to do so before – it’s a really positive change that will help him so much in whatever career he decides to pursue. He’s also now completely able to time manage effectively without relying on others too. In all honesty, Robert is a changed person for the better after NCS. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, which your child will enjoy every moment of – I couldn’t recommend it more.
Mother of Rebecca Brunskill
I hadn’t heard of NCS before Rebecca came home asking to take part. The fact they were offering to take my child away camping and on such adventures made me nervous to let her go, but I was soon reassured by colleagues at work whose children had been on NCS, and loved it.
Rebecca’s never had a problem mixing or making new friends – but I did worry her expectations of the programme would be too high and she might want to come home, but she proved me wrong. She soon met another young girl from another part of Liverpool and they’ve stayed friends ever since, doing things together outside of NCS.
The change to Rebecca’s maturity was noticeable as soon as she came home. She’s now capable of talking to people she’s never met in a grown up manner. She can listen to the views of others and hear criticism without being upset. In return, she can voice her own opinions and deliver them with eloquence and understanding, which is beautiful to see.
In fact, the skills she developed are so apparent and she was so empowered by the experience that she’s gone onto launch a nationwide campaign called ‘Step Up To Serve’ alongside HRH the Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition and become a member of Youth Parliament. More recently Rebecca was recognised by Liverpool John Moores University and honoured with a “Good Citizen” award. Her NCS experience gave Rebecca an understanding of the challenges and difficulties that people can face in life. What she realised is that she can make a difference - even if it’s as simple as bringing some joy to others - and by doing so, take enjoyment from that alone.
Rebecca’s transformation has been amazing. She’s learnt so many skills from being involved in NCS, there are almost too many to mention. She’s about to embark on her journey from school to university, where these skills will help her forge a path in life, and I can’t wait to watch.