Seventy-three young people have completed Preston North End Community and Education Trust’s summer National Citizen Service programme.
NCS is a government-backed programme that supports 15 to 17-year-olds to become more confident and independent, develop life skills, and access unique and exciting experiences and opportunities with adventurous activities.
The Trust has delivered three waves of the programme during the summer months, in which three groups of participants have raised thousands of pounds through various good-natured community initiatives for their social action projects.
Young people have raised funds for charities such as Mind, by collectively sitting on every seat inside Deepdale, Macmillan Cancer Support with a charity football match, and for the Salvation Army with a virtual bike ride from Deepdale to Wembley, while another group showed green fingers by gardening and tidying up the outdoor area at PlayFootball Preston.
Wave one saw 16 Special Educational Needs and Disability learners from Preston College complete the programme, before waves two and three saw a further 27 and 30 young people graduate from the programme designed to support young people’s personal growth.
Those involved in the programme were also able to access a number of adventurous activities for the first time since the pandemic hit, with the chance to visit the Anderton Centre at Rivington Pike and take part in water and land-based activities.
Participants also took part in a community mapping challenge to test their knowledge of getting around Preston and received a visit from England B1 footballer Azeem Amir to see what it’s like to play football with a visual impairment.
Community Partnerships Co-ordinator Jessica Riley said: “Our participants have been involved in plenty of workshops, doing a lot of team challenges and planning various social action projects.
“The benefits for the students post-Covid and coming out of the restrictions are that a lot of them have been at home not doing much and had restrictions within schools.
“They’ve been getting out and about, getting to know each other a bit better, making new friends, and gaining independence as well, which is a big thing on social action projects, because a lot of them have not planned a project before. They’re working as a team while all having a role and responsibility to carry out.
“We’re pleased to have helped 73 young people to graduate from NCS in the summer and are now enjoying working with our Preston Centre of Sporting Excellence learners to help them reap the same benefits ahead of their studies in the forthcoming academic year.”
A recent graduate, Fin Stephenson, who won the ‘student of the programme’ award for his wave, added: “As well as teamwork, we’ve learnt about independence and initiative. It’s also about communication as well, we talk to each other and deliver various speeches. Each person has been allowed to have their say.
“It’s benefitted us all really well. I’m so glad I came, it’s been loads of fun to meet new people. I know we’ll all stay in touch and it will be really good over the summer to potentially meet again and benefit us in the future.”