160 Teens Graduate from Northern Ireland National Citizen Service

160 Teens Graduate from Northern Ireland National Citizen Service

160 Teens Graduate from Northern Ireland National Citizen Service

160 Teens Graduate from Northern Ireland National Citizen Service

More than 160 young people from across Northern Ireland graduated from the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme on Tuesday 15 December. 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; presented with NCS and Millennium Volunteer certificates by Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma and had the opportunity to celebrate together against the backdrop of the circle and wing, Christmas party style.

Northern Ireland National Citizen Service is a once in a lifetime experience 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.

Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey MLA, speaking at the event said:

“Northern Ireland National Citizen Service (NI NCS) brings young people from both sides of the community together, to learn and work side by side.  NI NCS gives young people the chance to make a real difference in their communities and gives them the chance to build valuable skills for life and work.

“By taking part in team projects with others from different backgrounds, young people can break down barriers, increase their self confidence and strengthen the bonds between different communities.”

The Minister concluded:Graduating from NI NCS is not the end; it is just the beginning.  I hope the young people will draw on the important skills and experiences they have gained to unlock the potential they all have as they move forward with their lives and careers.”

Co-operation Ireland is the regional provider of NI NCS, leading a consortium of widely respected 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 100s 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'.

He added: "The autumn 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. 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.”

This autumn, 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.

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, Unit 5, Weaver’s Court, Linfield Road, Belfast, BT12 5GH, ccrooks@cooperationireland.org or 028 90 891006.