Co-operation Ireland announce success as delivery provider of Northern Ireland National Citizen Service (NI NCS) aslocal teens make a difference to community as part of national NCS Social Action Day.
On Saturday (7 March), to coincide with NCS Action Day, during which hundreds of teens nationwide gave up their day to take part a national day of social action, Co-operation Ireland announced their appointment as the delivery provider for NI NCS for the next 4 years.
The annual social action event, now in its second year, aims to showcase young people’s enthusiasm for making a difference to their communities since taking part in NCS – a programme supported in Northern Ireland by the Department for Social Development.
Taking place in NI from 2015 in summer and autumn, NI NCS is a once in a lifetime opportunity for all 15-17 year olds in Northern Ireland to build skills for employment such as resilience, confidence and leadership, build trust between people of different backgrounds, and create stronger communities where giving back is a way of life. After completing the initial programme, participants become NCS graduates, with access to a wide range of opportunities and support to continue making their mark in their communities.
NI NCS is open to all, regardless of background, experience or whether their strengths lie in sport, creativity or academics, with additional support provided to young people with learning or physical needs.
The NI NCS Social Action Day projects took place in Banbridge on Saturday and were designed and carried out by NI NCS graduates from Newry and Banbridge. The project involved a coffee morning and awareness event at Banbridge town hall in aid of Action on Hearing Loss and Alzheimer’s Society.
Nicole Parkinson-Kelly, 17 from Banbridge and leader of the project said: ‘It’s great to have a day in the calendar which encourages everyone to come together and have a positive impact on their community. For me it was an opportunity to reconnect with friends I met on NI NCS and do something that not only helps the local area, but gives us a chance to continue volunteering in a fun and really practical way. It also is a perfect way to raise money and awareness for causes and charities which have personal connections to the team.”
She says: “Setting up and managing my own social action project is something I’d never have done if it wasn’t for NI NCS, but it has given me a range of valuable skills and experiences. I’ve learnt how to interact with people outside of my own age group, lead a team and manage my time under pressure – all of which will be useful to me in the future. I’d definitely encourage other teens to say yes to NI NCS. It has given me a purpose and a responsibility as a young individual in society, as well as a passion to strive for the best that I know I can achieve whilst also considering the needs of others. ”
Many more NI graduates have come together and are planning further projects over the coming weekends in Belfast and Tyrone in aid of Assisi and the Niamh Louise Foundation.
In Northern Ireland, over 900 graduates have taken part in the programme to date under the direction of Co-operation Ireland and partners Belfast YMCA, YouthAction NI, Start360, Volunteer Now, St Columb’s Park House and YouthWorks CIC, dedicating over 12,000 hours to their local communities. Nationally, two million hours have already been volunteered by over 130,000 NCS participants to communities across England and Northern Ireland since 2012.
Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive at Co-operation Ireland said: “I am delighted that Co-operation Ireland has been appointed for the third time by the Department for Social Development to deliver Northern Ireland National Citizen Service. We are thrilled to be working once again with a great team of partner organisations. Together we want to build on the success of our previous programmes, success that is obvious today in engaged and compassionate NI teenagers, giving back and showcasing some of the skills they learnt on the programme.”
Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA said: “I welcome Co-operation Ireland as the strategic partner for NI NCS and I am confident they will help build on the success of the programme in the coming year.
“The young people of today are our leaders of tomorrow and that is why I chose to continue to invest in all of our futures through this additional funding of £400,000. This will enable a further 350 young people to engage in this life-changing programme.”
An independent evaluation of the NCS has shown a significant increase in a young person’s interest in their local area since taking part in the programme. Three quarters (74%) of teenagers post NCS agreed they were more likely to help out locally. Parents too noticed the difference after NCS, with four in five saying their child knew more about tackling problems in their local area and 83% of participants feeling more capable than they had realised*.
NI NCS teams will run this summer and autumn in 16 areas through Northern Ireland. These are East Belfast; Lower Falls/Greater Village; Shankill/Ardoyne; Rathcoole/Greencastle; Ballymena; Portrush/North Coast; DerryLondonderry; Omagh; Castlederg; Kesh/Ederney; Enniskillen; Newry;Armagh; Cookstown; Lurgan/Portadown; Newtownards/Ards Peninsula.