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NCS Diaries: Phase 3 Social Impact

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

16 August 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 consists of the four phases: Adventure (Residential), Discover, Social Action and Celebration. Catch22 delivers NCS across England, last year we took 4,386 young people on the programme.

During the busy summer months, our NCS teams wanted to take everyone on the journey with them. Who better to give everyone an insight into what young people get out of NCS than our Wave Leaders who work on the ground with these young people every day? This week Kailey White from the North East talks us through social impact week.

Kailey White, NCS North East Wave Leader,

Phase 3: Social Impact


What is an NCS Social Action campaign?

NCS social action campaigns involve young people working together to help their community. This could mean helping the community by raising awareness for charity or supporting social causes on the ground. Young people are encouraged to act on something they are passionate about so that they will be motivated to continue their campaign after the programme.

There are three elements to the social action project for Phase Three, firstly to ‘get your hands dirty’, which encourages young people to get out and volunteer. Second, to fundraise for your cause or for the equipment you need for your project. Finally, participants need to raise awareness for the issue in their chosen area through talking to the community and local organisations. After initial brainstorming and research with the community, the team chooses one issue that resonates with them. Tackling it through youth-led social action, they go out and bring their ideas to life.

What causes did your area support last year?

Our young people have found unique ways to support their neighbours, and some of the simplest ideas continue to have the greatest impact – from spending time with residents at care homes to revamping a sensory garden for dementia sufferers.

Last year we had groups who went into primary schools to talk to children about mental health, to explain the importance of talking about how they feel and how to support someone who is struggling. We’ve seen a sponsored football match to fundraise for children’s wheelchairs, litter picks in local parks, environmental campaigns, and a 24-hour sponsored bike ride for a women’s refuge. Other charities we have supported include the Children’s Heart Unit Foundation, Cancer Research and 4Louis.

I’m always pleasantly surprised by the common ideas the groups come up with despite their diverse backgrounds. You can tell the programme has a positive impact on these young people because often by the end of the social action project, they are so passionate that they want to carry it on after NCS.

What has been your favourite social action moment?

In this phase of NCS, I am always impressed by the great ideas participants have and their passion for the issues they tackle. This year one group really stood out; aiming to raise awareness about litter and plastic pollution within our oceans, the group took to the internet to spread the word, created their own website ‘NCS Clean Oceans’, organised litter picks at local beaches and made artwork from recyclable items.

Another team with the same theme even created a bench made entirely out of recyclable and recycled materials, which they then donated to a nearby primary school – I thought that was a great use of materials but also the perfect opportunity to pass on the knowledge they had learnt from their project to younger generations.

Have any of the young people carried on their social action project after the programme?

The most impressive post-NCS campaign our graduates continue to work on is ensuring that the Catch22 NCS scheme in South Tyneside offsets its carbon footprint. The team realised that the countless coach rides and waste from lunches were adding up and creating a large carbon footprint.

In the NCS spirit, they aimed to offset all emissions from the North East programmes by the end of 2019. Our graduates have planted trees, built vertical moss walls and organised litter picks in local parks, as well as completed a number of ecology challenges. There’s more to come!