More than 200 Teens Graduate from Northern Ireland National Citizen Service (NI NCS)
Last night (19 August), more than 200 young people from across Northern Ireland graduated from the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme. The event, held at Crumlin Road Gaol, was an opportunity to celebrate the fantastic journey that the young people have been on and the contribution that they have made to their local communities. At the ceremony the graduates were congratulated by the Minister for Social Development Mervyn Storey MLA; presented with NCS and Millennium Volunteer certificates by DJ Sonya Mac and representatives from the NCS Trust Michael Lynas and Stephen Greene.
Northern Ireland National Citizen Service is open to all 15-17 year olds from across Northern Ireland. It is a unique two or three week full-time programme focused around fun and discovery, plus 30 hours committed to a community project that benefits both young people and society. On this government backed programme, led by Co-operation Ireland on behalf of the Department for Social Development, participants build skills for work and life, while taking on new challenges and adventures, making new friends, and contributing to their community.
This summer, NI NCS teams delivered social action projects across Northern Ireland in co-operation with their local communities and a range of organisations. The projects had various strands and included issue awareness campaigns, lending time and support to community organisations to run events, restoring community spaces as well as many and varied lucrative fundraisers.
At the ceremony many of the groups told the audience about their social action projects including raising awareness of mental health issues and anti-bullying cyber campaigns.
Speaking at the event, Minister for Social Development Mervyn Storey said:
“Once again the achievements of our young people participating in this programme have surpassed all expectations. Through the programme young people undertook a range of projects in their local communities; from fund raising and clean-up campaigns, to recruiting volunteers and petitioning against child poverty. All these activities will have made a real difference to their local areas as well as building their own personal and social skills.
“The Northern Ireland National Citizen Service is important as it brings together young people from different social and community backgrounds, to learn and work side by side. For many young people the programme gives them the tools, skills and belief to unlock their potential while making a positive impact in their schools, colleges and communities. This graduation event is just the beginning and I hope that the programme has inspired these young people to continue the great work they have already achieved.”
Co-operation Ireland is the regional provider of NI NCS, leading a consortium of partners, including Volunteer Now, Start360, YouthAction NI, YMCA Belfast & Greenhill, St Columb’s Park House, YouthWorks CIC, Share Village and the NCS Trust. NI NCS seeks to galvanise support for young people’s development and social action across sectors and this year has seen relationships developing with private, public and voluntary sector organisations who have offered invaluable support to our teams.
Peter Sheridan, CEO of Co-operation Ireland said:
“Providing opportunities for young people from all walks of life to meet and get to know one another is the cornerstone of a shared society. It encourages respect for the individual and an appreciation of the bigger picture.
“Every year, National Citizen Service provides hundreds of young people from all over Northern Ireland with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that helps them build skills for work and life while taking on new challenges and meeting new friends. It is exciting and tough but it also helps them understand the value of a 'shared society'.
“The summer 2015 graduation event is a wonderful opportunity to share the Northern Ireland National Citizen Service experience with all the graduates, their friends and family and everyone else who has been part of this programme. Seeing our young people gaining in confidence and doing amazing things has been uplifting. Northern Ireland National Citizen Service is also a real benefit to the local community and helps young people as they move forward in to their future. What employers tell us all the time is that they want young people to be work ready and to be part of the success for their business. This programme does so much to help that need.”
National Citizen Service in Northern Ireland is open to 15-17 year olds. Young people can find out more about NCS and register their interest at www.ncsyes.co.uk
Regional information is also available from Corinna Crooks, Project Co-ordinator at Co-operation Ireland, firstname.lastname@example.org or 028 90 891006.