This website uses cookies to help us understand the way visitors use our website. We can't identify you with them and we don't share the data with anyone else. If you click Reject we will set a single cookie to remember your preference. Find out more in our privacy policy.

NCS Diaries: Phase 1 Adventure

Go on NCS this summer with our leaders on the programme as they let us experience NCS through weekly blogs from each phase.

22 July 2019

National Citizens Service (NCS) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for young people to take on new challenges and meet new friends. NCS runs over the summer period with each young person on a three week journey through the three phases of the programme; Adventure (Residential), Discover and finally, Social Action. Catch22 delivers NCS across England with a total of 4,386 young people on the programme last year.

Our NCS Champions wanted to take everyone on the journey with them this summer; to give everyone an insight into why young people love NCS so much, showing how much they can learn and grow from the experience. Who better to tell the story then the 2019 Wave Leaders from each region who work on the ground with these young people every day?

For Phase 1 Jon Matthews from Liverpool tells us why Residential week is so important for young people. As a seasoned NCS Wave Leader Jon has seen individuals go from unwilling and hesitant to confident in a matter of weeks. He describes the impact that this programme can have on young people and the importance of having a constant trusted mentor for these individuals throughout the duration of the programme.


Jon Matthews, NCS Wave Leader

Phase 1: Residential, Liverpool

What is Residential phase and why is it so important for the young people on the programme?

I see NCS as a ‘wonderful machine’ that helps transform young people’s lives, skill set, social network and confidence and it all begins from the first moment they sign up! The NCS Residential, also known as Adventure week is the first phase of the programme and is a huge part in the development of young people on NCS. This first stage helps young people create those lifetime friendships and concrete the foundations with their peers for the rest of the programme. The young people learn so much from the residentials; Phase 1 is an outward bound activity centre style layout where young people complete activities such as being harnessed into safety equipment and zip wiring from 30 metre towers, dragon boat racing, supporting each other to climb Jacobs ladder or even jumping from 35 metre podiums (with a harness of course!), all to push their limits, test their characters and challenge their fears!

It takes those young people out of their comfort zone and plunges them into a new and exciting environment where no matter your background or culture everyone is on the same level, it is that sense of common ground and facing fears as a group which brings them together. Residential is special because it’s not every day that these kids get the opportunity to meet lots of new people, and learn new skills whilst having fun all at the same time.


What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in a young person from arriving to leaving residential?

Young people that take part in NCS have a wide variety of skills as individuals and everyone comes along with their own abilities and challenges. On the very first day, young people can appear their shy, less confident selves as they are surrounded by lots of new people and a brand new experience; but it is obvious that by the last day of the programme those young people have increased levels of confidence, a wider knowledge of their communities, more empathy toward charitable causes, new friendship groups and an overall better understanding of their self-worth and their future steps.

One young person who took part this summer is a vulnerable young person, has experienced negative and life changing situations in their childhood and has been heavily connected with drugs and alcohol. This young person came with their own challenges and limits, but they chose to push themselves out of their comfort zone and lift their boundaries. That young person has now been heavily involved in all aspects of the NCS programme; learning about themselves along the way and discovering new skills while also making friends for life. It is really encouraging to see transformations like this – it shows you just how much NCS can do for a young person.

Why is NCS so important for young people and why should individuals consider joining the programme?

For anyone considering taking part in NCS, don’t consider it, just do it! NCS is a once in a lifetime opportunity and is beneficial to everyone no matter what skill set or level of confidence they may have. NCS educates people naturally rather than in a lecture/school setting. If you want to develop and grow as a person, meet new friends, feel more secure about your future goals, and push your limits to enable you to do that bit more, then just do it! Everyone has ability and everyone is capable of achieving their absolute best – NCS is the programme to help speed up that process!



  • Check out Jon’s takeover of Catch22’s Twitter account here
  • Keep up with Catch22’s NCS Liverpool team by following them on Facebook or Instagram.
  • Keep an eye out for our next blog on Phase 2: Discovery Week where we will be talking to NCS Wave Leader, Ryan Phillips from Staffordshire in the West Mids.
  • Find out more about NCS here.