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Team Leader talk with Nicola and Jason

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It’s that time of year again, spring has sprung and as the temperature rises (slowly…) so does our excitement for summer! “Will it be a scorcher? Can I get tickets to V Festival? Have I sent back my application to become an NCS Team Leader?

Well, we can’t predict the summer, we’re pretty sure you can still get tickets for V Festival (and Tinie Tempah is performing… NCSYES!) but if you haven’t sent back your NCS application yet, well, what are you waiting for!?

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NCS isn’t just for young people aged 15-17, there’s a massive team of assistants, leaders and volunteers who are crucial to making the programme happen. It’s a great opportunity to gain experience working with young people, whilst also giving something back to your community.

You’ll stay away for two weeks along with your fellow team leaders, assistants and volunteers (one week at an outdoor activity centre and the other a university), inspire a group of young people and help them hone their skills and fuel their passion, all culminating in a youth led, social action project within your community.

We spoke to two team leaders from Milton Keynes, Jason Dass and Nicola Mansell, about their experiences last summer.

How long have you been involved in NCS?

Nicola Mansell

Nicola: About two and a half years.

Jason: Since summer last year (2015) when I was a Team Leader for the first time.

What does a typical day in the life of a Team Leader look like?

Jason: Getting up before your team so you can wake up all the stragglers and get them to breakfast on time! Then motivating the team for the morning.

Nicola: The day is always upbeat, with a variety of positive challenges –  team bonding, moving both myself and the young people out of their comfort zones and forming friendships.

Jason: But the evenings are just as important as the days. On the last residential I had to lead a reflection hour each evening. Initially this was challenging, as the majority of the young people were apprehensive and weren’t confident sharing their opinions. But by the end of the first week this had completely changed. The group bonded and learnt to respect and listen to each other’s opinions – everyone had something great and different to offer.

 What challenges do NCS Team Leaders face?

Jason: The attitude of the young people towards working in a team of people they don’t know can be challenging. It takes time for the team to bond but it  helps if Team Leaders are positive, embracing and supportive.

Nicola: You need to encourage your team to take part in all aspects of the programme, but there’s no ‘one solution fits all’. Some of the young people thrive within a classroom setting, while others identify it too much with school. Some young people find the activities within the first week terrifying and others find just the thought of being away from home a challenge.

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How has your skillset improved?

Nicola: I’m a teacher in my main job, so interacting and facilitating learners comes very naturally to me. Improvising and engaging the young people in energiser’s and ice breaking activities has provided me with a more diverse skillset, only enhancing my teaching practice.

Jason: I have a greater understanding of young people and their attitudes towards each other and team projects. My leadership skills have developed and I now feel more confident asserting authority and encouraging independence in others.

What’s the best part of your role?

Jason: Meeting and socialising with a fantastic range of people – from the other Team Leaders to every single one of my team – a year on and we all still keep in touch!

Nicola: The community social action project – watching those 15 strangers who have formed such a close bond achieving their goal and giving back to the community makes for a very proud moment.

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And lastly, would you recommend the role to a friend?

Jason: Absolutely, I already have! Both me and a Team Leader I became good friends with last year are hitting NCS again this summer!

Nicola: Most definitely!

If you’d like to take part in NCS as a team leader, assistant or volunteer, you can apply here.

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