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Anika

Service user

"When you see that ‘no’ turn into a ‘yes’ it makes you feel like you have made a difference."

To protect identities, images are not specific to the stories but are of others involved with Catch22.

During sixth form I remember sitting with my group of friends during break when two people in NCS hoodies approached us. Their initial attempts to persuade me to join NCS were met with my arms firmly folded, along with a solid ‘no’, my thought process at the time was ‘Why would I do this when I could just be sat at home relaxing?’. One by one, a handful of my friends accepted the sign-up form to take home and so did my then girlfriend, so of course I had no other choice but to take one too!

The October half term break came around and I found myself on the residential NCS programme. I hadn’t really done any outdoor activities before but opened up and gave these a go. For instance, I had never done climbing before but managed to get to the top pretty fast on my first attempt! Another memory was being given a crying plastic baby to look after for around 12 hours one day. This drove us insane, but taught us some hard lessons about parental responsibilities! Our social action project was a real highlight, raising around £1,500 for a local charity through a Frozen themed dress-up and sing-along cinema event. It showed me just how much you can achieve in a short amount of time when you have a team that really puts their all into something.

At the end of the program, Kevin and Lisa asked me to come back and work for them when I turned 18, an offer which I could not refuse. Fast forward to now, five years since my NCS journey began, and I’ve just finished my 10th and final wave as a mentor.

Along the way I’ve worked with some incredible people, both the full-time staff in the office and those that I have mentored. There has been nothing more rewarding than working with the young people I’ve had the pleasure of mentoring. You get to experience such a variety of personalities and become a first-hand witness to their growth throughout the program.

For sure, you will face challenges, lack sleep, and deal with young people simply refusing to cooperate, but when you find a way of getting through to them and see that ‘no’ turn into a ‘yes’ it makes you feel like you have made a difference. As a mentor you are the face of NCS to your group: you are the main one they will remember. It is a huge responsibility but one that, if done right, reaps so many benefits for you and all your young people.

“I wouldn’t change my five-year journey in the slightest. As my time with NCS draws to a close, I will miss the excitement every summer knowing I’ll be back as a mentor.”