Catherine meets community-minded NCS participants

Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, has visited local teenagers taking part in this summer’s National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.

Joining 75 participants at Newcastle United’s St James’ Park, Catherine spoke to teams of young people planning a series of community projects, which they would be delivering across the area the following week.

This summer’s project ideas from Newcastle teenagers taking part in the scheme include a renovation of the West End Foodbank’s community garden, fundraising for and improving facilities at St Oswald’s Hospice and a spirit-raising visit to youngsters at the Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit.

NCS is the country’s fastest growing youth movement. Running during the school holidays, NCS enables 16 and 17 year olds to improve their local communities, whilst building new skills and experiences. Across the country, over 100,000 teenagers signed up to the programme.

Catherine said:

It was great to meet NCS participants at St James’ Park. I was really impressed with their enthusiasm and the ideas they had developed to improve communities in Newcastle this summer.

‘It’s also so encouraging that NCS has enabled teenagers from across the city to become active citizens, mix with young people from different schools and backgrounds and increase their involvement in democratic participation.’

16 year old Kieran Stables, from Newcastle, said:

‘My NCS experience has been life-changing. It’s definitely been one of the best things I have ever done. I’ve met amazing people and made friends for life.

‘It was fantastic to meet Catherine; she was really interested in the NCS programme and the benefits it gives young people. Catherine was also impressed that we had taken a politics workshop, in which we debated a range of political issues and learnt about the benefits of registering to vote.

‘My team’s social action project is a football tournament with an aim of bringing the local community together. We’ve also been out fundraising and tidying up the local area.’

In the North East, NCS is delivered by a partnership of V•Inspired, the National Youth Agency (NYA) and thirteen local delivery partners from the voluntary and community sector across the region, including the Newcastle United Foundation, which Catherine visited.

The next NCS programme will be taking place during the autumn half-term and is open to 16 and 17 year olds who will be in Year 12 or 13. Teens will get a chance to experience adventure in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales or Scottish borders and meet new friends before returning home to deliver a community project that makes a lasting impact on the local area.

NCS will never cost any young person more than £50 including food, transport and accommodation for the time away. Young people eligible for free school meals qualify for a bursary and can take part for £10 or less.

Parents or teens should visit or call 0191 247 4020 to express an interest.