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John and Emily (NCS)

Service user

'I’m more comfortable to give my opinion, take part and prove the traditional stereotypes of the teenagers are wrong'.

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

John and Emily were both part of a Catch22 Sunderland NCS summer cohort.

Emily found out about the programme from her brother, as he had seen a presentation at his school. After telling his dad what he had heard, Mr. Cooper encouraged them both to join the summer programme. Mr. Cooper said that Emily had become ‘nervous, unconfident and had lost belief in her skills and abilities’ at school and so he was really pleased that Emily was brave enough to join the programme. Emily herself said she had many reservations before turning up for the first day of the away residential; she really struggled to mix with people she didn’t know, as she was shy and lacked confidence.

Gaining confidence and leadership

However, Emily said the residential was the best part of the NCS programme as she did things she would never have thought possible; for example waterfall jumping – one of the best things Emily says she has ever done. Talking to new people was really challenging for Emily and she found it really hard going into shops to ask for donations. But, she says her proudest moment ‘was contacting Sainsbury’s off my own back and going to speak to the events co-ordinating manager.’ As a result of this, Sainsbury’s donated money to their social action project which was working with elderly people in a residential home.

As a result of the NCS programme, Emily says she has gained confidence and takes leadership roles when needed. Having worked with elderly people and gaining a better understanding of their needs, she now knows she want to work with the elderly in the future.

Mr. Cooper said Emily ‘came home, the girl we had lost prior to secondary school’, and now will do anything put in front of her.

Personal development and networking

As for John, not only did he give up some of his summer holidays for NCS, but the Autumn half-term too! He took part in an intensive, week long leadership programme as a result of becoming an NCS Ambassador. This means he is one of 100 young people selected to be able to fully realise their potential after completing the NCS programme, and build a national network in order to develop their personal and social development and to inform other young people about the programme.

John says:

‘I never realised how much I could change in just four weeks. Not only have I made incredible new friends that I otherwise wouldn’t have met but my confidence has also grown – I’m more comfortable to give my opinion, take part and prove the traditional stereotypes of the teenagers are wrong’.

John NCSHis NCS Catch22 team leaders said that John really demonstrated his development during the programme and overcame personal challenges. They feel John is an excellent role model for young people in Sunderland.

During half term, John did workshops with Sky Skills Academy, Barclays Life Skills, Mozilla Digital Champions and EY (formerly Ernst and Young). In addition, he visited City Hall and met MPs at the House of Commons to understand the importance of engaging in the democratic process.

Mr Cooper finished by saying:

‘We are very proud parents and can only shout form the rooftops the benefits of this wonderful cause. We have our daughter back believing in herself and a son who is now an Ambassor. Thank you for this marvellous opportunity for my twins’.