It’s a four week programme. It costs those attending £50. It’s worth a great deal more.
There’s a run-in period whereby parents/carers/attendees are emailed and ‘phoned in the month/weeks before the experience fully kicks in. The course leaders host an information evening per group to assuage any anxieties families may have.
Week 1: An outward bounds type residential. The one we witnessed took 50 young people, aged 16-17, away to a PGL centre near Swindon. Along with an 18K walk and caring for balloon babies, much team building takes place here as the 50 is divided down into smaller cohorts.
Week 2: University living. Again, from personal experience, this group was based at the Guildford campus at the University of Surrey in student halls. They began to engage with community groups and charities, in a range of roles, visiting care homes, tending to gardens, performing, photographing and marketing. Barclays gave them some tips on CVs and interview skills which we were told gave better advice than the Careers event at his school! Meanwhile, they lived to a budget, cooking meals, doing the dishes etc. Great preparation for life beyond school…
Week 3: School/town based, commuting from home. The Mole Valley troop was based in Dorking. Here, they met different industry professionals who worked with them on presentation skills, financial knowledge and fundraising techniques. They had to 'pitch’ to local businesses for sponsorship - all very 'Dragons’ Den’… They were assigned a charity with a local base - The Rainbow Trust
was quickly on our radar at home - for whom they were to raise funds and awareness.
Week 4: Charity week. Fundraising and awareness raising. From bag-packing in Epsom M&S to dance marathons in Dorking town centre, groups raised funds and hopefully awareness of their assigned charities. Lots of face to face contact with local shoppers, all while being carefully but gently shepherded by the NCS volunteers and senior mentors.
A few weeks’ later … an NCS graduation ceremony, coming up this weekend. Of which their website says: 'At the end of your NCS experience, you’re now part of the bigger NCS family. This is only just the beginning! You’ll get exclusive access to potential volunteering opportunities and apprenticeships as well as big events! Once an NCSer, always an NCSer.’
Further down the line … opportunities to be NCS ambassadors, volunteers or mentors.