Something to be truly proud of – young people, social action and UFA

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It’s all too easy to generalise about teenagers and talk about their dedication to Xboxes and smartphone screens, but those who make these sweeping statements are not only likely to be guilty of the same short attention spans – but they probably haven’t heard of the fantastic work many young people are doing for their communities through social action projects as part of the National Citizen Service programme.

The National Citizen Service (NCS) is a once-in-a-lifetime programme for 15 to 17-year-olds to make new friendships, share unforgettable memories and make a lasting impact on the world around them. UFA is one of the delivery organisations for NCS and we are proud of the high quality NCS programmes we are running across the UK. As with our other programmes for young people, our NCS delivery is underpinned by our 10 Learning Essentials.

Since 2012, we have worked with over 5,000 young people to help them achieve around 150,000 hours of social action in their communities across County Durham, Kirklees, Northamptonshire, Norfolk and Bedfordshire. We’re now extending our reach to work in Lancashire, Milton Keynes and Suffolk.

Young People are helping to change lives and creating social action projects that will inspire not only their peers, but generations to come. Participants spend a short time away from home learning to challenge themselves and each other, understanding what it means to work as part of a team. They then take these skills back to their communities and create social action projects that make a positive difference.

In teams of 12 to 15, the young people involved have embarked on various projects and challenges, which have included raising funds for local or international charities, renovating wildlife gardens and even refurbishing hospital wards.

They’ve revamped local parks, skate parks and wildlife parks. They’ve designed everything from leaflets and posters, to gardens and ponds. They’ve even hosted gigs, festivals and community events, made videos, written poetry and performed songs. As well as helping their community, they are developing valuable skills for work and life. And the feedback to date has been wonderful.

To give you a better understanding of its incredible value, let’s break it down.

There are six key principles that make up NCS and show just how much young people get out of the programme.

1. Social MixingThe programme provides young people with the opportunity to mix and build relationships with people from different social backgrounds.

2. Challenge!

We put young people through a series of challenging activities to take them out of their comfort zone and develop strength of character.

3. Increased responsibility and independence

We provide a progressive journey that hands over more responsibility to young people as the programme progresses and develops the leadership skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.

4. Reflection

Encourages young people to reflect, supporting them to learn from their experiences and become more resilient, confident and more effective in their decisions and relationships.

5. Social Action

Enables young people to connect with and get involved in their communities and develop skills that are useful for future employment.

6. Inspiration

Encourages young people to flourish after NCS – continuing to mix, contribute to their community and achieve personal goals.

Hearing the heart-warming stories from young people who have worked tirelessly on these projects and gained so much from them is testament to the programme’s success over the last few years.

Social action is one of many aspects of UFA that makes it one of the UK’s most exciting and powerful education charities. We have now worked with 50 local authority areas, over 2000 schools and youth organisations, while over 750,000 young people have participated in UFA activities.

2015 is going to be a great year for everyone involved… stay tuned.

For more information on the projects the teams have worked on, read the most recent social action newsletter here.

For more information on NCS, and how you can get involved, visit the NCS website.

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