National Citizen Service Introduced in Northern Ireland

For the first time, 15 and 16 year olds from Northern Ireland will be able to take part in National Citizen Service (NCS) during the autumn half-term. A consortium of youth and community organisations, led by Co-operation Ireland will deliver the programme on behalf of the UK government.

National Citizen Service gives young people from different backgrounds valuable life experiences by putting them into teams away from home and setting them the task of finding solutions to local problems or issues that matter to them. It also enables them to develop important skills that they can take with them into the world of work.

The pilot programme in Northern Ireland will have a strong cross–community focus with 16 groups from the two main religious communities coming from both rural and urban areas across the country. NCS is a flagship government initiative, set up by the Cabinet Office and supported in Northern Ireland by the Department for Social Development.

Nelson McCausland the Minister for Social Development said:
“I welcome the UK National Citizen Service Programme now being available to young citizens in Northern Ireland and the potential opportunities that it brings. I would strongly encourage young people from across Northern Ireland to avail of this fantastic opportunity and apply.”

Peter Sheridan, Chief Executive of Co-operation Ireland remarked
“Co-operation Ireland is delighted to have been selected to deliver National Citizen Service for the first time in Northern Ireland and we are confident that given the professionalism of all the organisations in the consortium it will be a huge success. We believe it is hugely important that our young people are given every opportunity to develop and improve their life skills. By meeting people from other cultures and backgrounds on a cross community basis they will become more knowledgeable and accepting of the cultures and traditions of others. In Northern Ireland it is also imperative we instil in our young people the values and standards that are required for creating a stable and cohesive society”.

Following the success of NCS in England, the Cabinet Office, supported by the Northern Ireland Office, is keen to roll out the programme in the province. Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society said

“We are very pleased to be expanding National Citizen Service this autumn. Not only is this a new advancement across England, but for the first time young people in Northern Ireland will also be able to benefit from the personal and social development opportunities NCS provides, which we believe are fundamental to their brighter futures. Cabinet Office and the NIO are delighted to be working alongside our new partner in Northern Ireland, Co-operation Ireland, and their subcontractors, to deliver the programme there. We are confident that the charity which has an impressive track record can lead the way in Northern Ireland, spearheading the NCS offering and continuing to build upon its work to bring communities together from different backgrounds, a core focus of NCS.”

Mike Penning MP the newly appointed Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office said:

“I welcome the fact that NCS is coming to Northern Ireland and the opportunity it gives to our young people to develop new skills and make a positive contribution to their local community which is in total contrast to the senseless violence that we have all recently seen in North Belfast”.

Information on the programme will be available from Co-operation Ireland website www.cooperationireland.org

The other members of the consortium who will deliver the programme include Opportunity Youth, Youthworks CIC, St Columb’s Park House, YouthAction Northern Ireland, YMCA, Belfast and Greenhill, Volunteer Now, Corrymeela Community and the Share Village.