A young group from Brathay Trust which compromised of 13 members, raised around £1,000 for the National Autistic Society, as they chose to spread awareness about Autism for their summer social action project with NCS. Read more
The NCS programme was a roaring success throughout the summer of 2021; with 9,198 young people, aged 16-17, engaging in the delivery of 350 social action programmes, with the collective ambition to improve key social issues and improve the standard of living in their local communities.
Hours volunteered over the course of the summer months amassed 270,000, raising over £60,000 by NCS participants across the EFL Trust network. Following the restrictions posed during the lockdown of 2020, the young people eagerly embraced the opportunity to be hands on in their approach to rejuvenate local areas.
This was particularly evident in Shrewsbury, where an NCS cohort renovated a rundown underpass en route to New Meadow, so fans can enjoy a colourful, Shrewsbury Town themed commute on matchdays. A group from Middlesbrough also made efforts to create a sensory area on a community site aimed for those with learning difficulties, mental health issues and sensory issues to help them relax. A group from North Yorkshire embarked on an impressive 7 social action projects re-vamping a youth-activity space at the YMCA, creating a garden area in their school, making care packages for local care home residents, fundraising for Candlelighters, Westway Open Arms community hub and fundraising for their school.
“This programme has been valuable to me; I have worked with people I would never normally have worked with. My confidence and self-worth has really grown and I feel more independent.” said Megan, 16.
Another key cause that was particularly important to those partaking in the NCS programme over the summer was educating and supporting mental health needs. 13 young people on NCS with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust set out to raise awareness on suicide prevention. In addition to this, a group from Harrogate helped raise funds for Mind, their local mental health charity; whilst also hosting a selection of activities and workshops to improve the mental and physical wellbeing of young people.
“We decided we wanted our Social Action Project to help raise awareness of Mental Health and Wellbeing. We decided to run sports sessions with the younger year groups, alongside mental health workshops; to show them the positive impact of exercise on Mental Health.” Explained Alex, a member of the group.
NCS has given thousands of young people the confidence and self-belief to make the next steps in life – be that higher education or employment prospects – all whilst bolstering their interpersonal and people skills. A great example of this Ethan Bryson, who took part in the NCS summer programme with Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation. Living with autism since the age of 4, leaving high school during the global pandemic posed a challenge to Ethan, but his experiences of NCS which helped him meet new people and learn new skills prior to his transition to college.
Another illustration of the benefit that the NCS programme can have can be found in Bradley from Burton. Also living with autism, Bradley’s family had reservations about Bradley’s involvement in NCS due to its full-on nature both physically and socially. But these reservations were soon dropped once they saw the positive impact the experiences had on Bradley. They said:
“The skills he has learnt from just those 2 weeks on NCS has given him so much confidence.” said a member of Bradley’s family. “Thank you so much to everyone for giving Bradley the opportunity to show him he has the ability to do anything he wants.”
This week, young people are being celebrate through #iwillweek recognising the power of youth and their capability when given a voice and a platform to do so, just like 9,198 young people that took part in NCS this summer.
A group of 13 young people on NCS with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust set out to raise awareness on suicide prevention, and to spread positivity within the community during their NCS summer social action project. Read more
A young group from Hartlepool United came together to boost the morale of care home residents during the summer. The group chose to renovate the care home garden with an aim to create a positive impact upon the elderly residents, who welcomed the changes after suffering from intense Covid-19 restrictions.
The social action project decided by the young people whilst on NCS, was to help improve and renovate the garden of the Queen’s Meadow care home in Hartlepool. One of the members of the team, Elise Humble, reflected on the project:
“As a team we thought this would massively benefit the care home because of Covid-19 and the restrictions that were in place at the time, which encouraged people to go outside. This social action project would enable the residents to have a better place to go outside, and to even have time and a place to see family members.”
The group initially decided to ask the residents of the care home, to write down how the garden could be improved and placed them in “Care Boxes”. The group worked together to implement the changes, and created boxes containing items such as crosswords, soaps, pens and personalised notes for the care home.
The group then spent two days tidying up the garden, planting new flowers, and utilised their creativity skills, painting the plant boxes and personalising the rocks, bringing smiles to the elderly people during difficult circumstances. The group also decided to buy all items, such as the decorations from charity shops, so awareness could also be raised there.
“The care packages delivered will put a smile on the residents faces. We included a personalised note in each care package, so they knew who it was from and why they were receiving it.”
Elise stated that her time within NCS on the Social Action Project not only benefited the residents within the care home, but also herself and her group members:
“I wasn’t a very confident person and I thought participating would help make develop my communication skills and it would help me meet new people. The experience I gained from NCS has helped me become more confident, and better at communicating with others. We completed tasks where we were talking to members of the public, which would usually be out of my comfort zone, but doing so has helped improve my social skills.”
Elise has mentioned how her newfound confidence has also helped her with talking to larger groups:
“Due to my new confidence, I have now joined the college debate club, which is something completely out of my comfort zone, but thanks to NCS I felt more able to push myself that extra mile.”
“NCS has helped me gain lots of new friends and people to talk to, and it was nice doing something to improve our community with a group of great friends. The NCS experience on a whole was amazing, I would definitely recommend it to others and encourage them to do it too as it was so much fun, it helped me in improving so many skills.”
Like many young people during the pandemic, Victoria Conboy spent several months out of work, before being employed as an Admin Officer with Wigan Athletic Community Trust, through the government’s Kickstart programme in May this year.
For Victoria, the opportunity to get back into work with Wigan Athletic Community Trust, through the Kickstart programme, provided her with a positive moment during a difficult time for the 20-year-old:
“I found the pandemic quite difficult as I couldn’t see my family at a time when I lost two of my aunties, and I was unable to grieve properly or attend their funerals. I think if I didn’t have my dog during this tough time of feeling isolated, it could have been a lot worse.”
“But when I got this job, it allowed me to go out and see people and have a bit of normality back in my life, this helped me greatly.”
In partnership with the EFL Trust, Latics are one of 65 EFL clubs involved in the programme across the country that is offering six-month job roles to young people, aged 16-24, claiming Universal Credit.
“My experience with Wigan Athletic Community Trust has been better than I could have imagined.”
Now nearly five months into her role, Victoria is one of seven young people in current employment with Wigan Athletic Community Trust through the programme and explains how it’s benefited her so far.
“I have had a similar role to this before, so I knew I couple pick it up quickly. Everyone is really kind, helpful and offer me any support when I need it.”
“It’s also given me more confidence when speaking to people over the phone and in person too.”
Alongside the Kickstart scheme, Wigan Athletic Community Trust also provides several educational opportunities and sports qualifications for young people through its current Training and Skills, including a Level 2 and Level 3 Football and Education programme and Two-Year Foundation Degree with the University of South Wales.
For further information on the Kickstart programme please click here
As we reflect on Saturday’s World Food Day, Orchard Primary Academy’s Breakfast Club received a surprise visit form Huddersfield Town striker, Jordan Rhodes.
The school in Chickenley, Dewsbury, is one of 41 Kirklees schools to have a Breakfast Club facilitated by the football club’s registered charity, the Town Foundation. A reflection of an unprecedented year cannot be more prevalent than on World Food Day whereby many families have struggled to ensure they were able to provide food.
A study from academics at the University of Sheffield using food poverty statistics collated by the Food Foundation found a staggering 12.02% of adults in Kirklees were worried about having enough food.
Not only do these projects provide vital food and nourishment to those most in need but also allow children the safe space to socialise. Jordan joined in with the children in attendance playing a variety of games with them as well as allowing them time to talk and ask questions.
The Town Foundation continues to support their local community through a variety of initiatives and partnerships such like their work with the Salvation Army in Mirfield to provide food parcels during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These have been distributed to 270 families identified as being most in need by the Foundation’s partner schools thus far, with families of Orchard Primary Academy among the beneficiaries.
Lincoln City Foundation, like most charities has had a difficult year. Changing and adapting to the ever-changing landscape. With some projects on hold, the Foundation focused on helping their community through the pandemic, forming a COVID-Response team which assisted the vulnerable members of their community area with things like shopping, medication and support. And as we continue to recover from the Pandemic Lincoln City Foundation is continuing to adapt to their communities need. Unemployment in the under 25’s was identified a major emerging issue in their area. Therefore the Imps have created a new free 12-week traineeship programme which focuses on giving under 25’s the experience and skills they need to get back into work.
One young man who is benefiting from the programme is Jake, here is his story.
As a young child Jake always struggled to socialise, he says,
“Struggling with my confidence and concentration, I was bullied a lot throughout school. My later diagnosis of ADHD, Autism and Learning Difficulties came as a relief.”
However lockdown brought a fresh set of challenges for Jake, he continues,
“I found lockdown really difficult, as I struggled to keep up with my studies at college and was unable to go out anywhere. My relationships I had formed struggled in a virtual environment, and some never recovered. I went through a bad time and struggled with my mental health, feeling like I didn’t want to be here anymore because the lad I was 6 months before was happy had everything he wanted, but it felt like another barrier that I have to try and get passed and started to give up.”
Then Jake joined me to Lincoln City foundation local NCS programme.
“I didn’t want to do it, but my mum pushed me to go. I had a good time socializing with others again and doing activity’s which was a big boost of motivation and boosted my confidence up. After this had finished I felt motivated to do more, so I asked the Foundation about volunteering with them.”
“I stared working with the foundation about a year ago, working with their community team to deliver projects in my local area, supporting things like litter picks, COVID support and green spaces. I had never looked back and gone from strength to strength. I have now joined their Traineeship programme, developing new skills to help support me into further education and work.
After the year I had been through, meeting new people at the foundation, having the opportunity to work in new sectors and having the opportunity to improve myself, I feel great. I am really enjoying forming that bond working with others, whilst getting new qualifications.”
Oli is a young boy whose disability means he has problems with his coordination, communication as well as being partially sighted, which means he was very introverted and did not mix well with people. However, his mum credits Football with Argyle Community Trust as improving his self-confidence and allowing her son be a “normal teenager”.
Oli’s Secondary School recommended the Plymouth Argyles Trust’s Holiday Roadshows. For the first couple of years it was a massive challenge for his parents to get Oli to attend these. He was always fine once there and the continuity of the coaches was clearly important to him. However after over time, Oli now asks every time to make sure he is booked onto the Holiday Roadshows and can’t wait to get there for each ession. His progress is such that over the last 12 months he has also progressed to Argyle’s Ability Counts sessions, “something we could never get him to even consider”, said Oli’s mum.
“It’s a good opportunity for Oli to see friends on a regular basis who have the common interest of football.” Oli’s mum said. “His face lights up when he knows that certain friends are going to be at the session”.
Oli’s disabilities mean he cannot always socialise like a ‘normal’ teenager as he always needs someone to support him. The Ability Counts Football session is a chance for Oli to socialise with a group of young people with common interests. Although there are many physical benefits to taking part, it is the social aspect of these sessions that most beneficial to this particular group of young people.
Argyle Community Trust are part of the Every Player Counts programme which is funded by Wembley National Stadium Trust and EFL Trust. Every Player Counts has, over the past four years, got over 11,000 disabled people into football. Barnsley are one of 28 Football Club Community Organisations across the country that offer the programme, which is specifically developed for the needs of people in their local community, including those with both physical, mental and learning impairments.
During the lockdown period, Oli has not wanted to leave the house, other than going to school, so he has really missed the benefits provided by the football sessions. The community trust recognised the importance, now more than ever, for disabled people to stay active and the positive impact this has on their mental health. Especially for Oli who is now preparing for his exams. The coaching staff at the Trust have been providing weekly football activity videos for the participants to take part in during the lockdown period.
Since participating in the Ability Counts session Oli’s self-confidence and self-esteem has grown, along with his willingness to communicate with others. Oli’s mum said, “We saw a turning point and it has definitely improved his self-confidence, knowing that he can do something, and it is an activity he now chooses to attend which is so important for him”.
A community space can once again provide a vital respite for people with mental health challenges thanks to a group of young people.
18 young people, aged 15-17, from Wakefield have transformed a local allotment area which supports people who are experiencing problems with their mental health.
The group completed a two-week programme with Wakefield Trinity called ‘Keep Doing Good’. The programme is part of the National Citizen Service’s (NCS) ‘One Million Hours of Doing Good’, a wider pledge to enable up to one million hours of teens taking an active role in helping the country recover post Covid-19. In their final week, the group pulled up their sleeves and volunteered at Appletree Allotments in Wakefield.
This week is ‘National Allotments Week’ and the benefits of an allotment go much further than growing fresh produce – the outdoors and interaction with nature has proven benefits for mental health. Appletree Allotments is a community space, and is a referral place for people with mental health issues or who are suffering from loneliness. Once there, they receive 1-to-1 support sessions, meet new people and talk about their mental health.
The allotment relies on volunteers, but due to COVID-19 there have been fewer people able to help out and so it has become overgrown. The group of young people have worked hard to transform the allotment so it is a safe and happy place for people to visit once again.
Keaven, 16, one of the volunteers is delighted at what the team has done. He said;
“It’s been really nice to give something back to the community, especially to those that need it most. It’s been fun to volunteer at the allotment – we’ve been painting, weeding and even met the chickens! The people who work at Appletree are so nice and they’ve taught us loads.”
“It’s good to get some volunteering experience in a really friendly environment, especially after being home for so long!”
Bridget Hill, Charity Manager at Spectrum People who manage Appletree allotments said;
“What a difference a few days make and lots of wonderful NCS volunteer hours. We are so pleased to welcome this amazing group as their helping hands to Appletree which needed a lot of TLC. The individuals Spectrum People supports will really enjoy this space once they come back after lockdown.”
Thousands of young people in Yorkshire and The Humber, like this group of young people, are due to take part in ‘Keep Doing Good’ in August with EFL Trust (official Charity Arm of the English Football League) and other local organisations. During their time on the programme, young people will develop themselves and make a positive impact on the community through a social action project volunteering their time supporting local issues in their community.
For more information on ‘Keep Doing Good’ click here.
“Everyone should come together in times of need and work together as a team.” says Katie McDougall who has been volunteering with Preston North End ‘Helping Hampers’ Campaign, she continues, “As a young person, I’ve got lots of time on my hands and if I can volunteer my services, I will. If I can help others, put a smile on their face and get them through this hardship, then obviously it makes me feel good as well!”
Katie, aged 18, joined Preston North End Community and Education Trust (PNECET) to volunteer for their ‘Helping Hampers’ Campaign. The campaign supports the most vulnerable people in the community of Preston with hampers of essential food and provisions. So far she has helped provide 70 vulnerable household with essential provision to help get them through this difficult period.
Katie first came in to contact PNECET when she did NCS in 2019 and that is how she found out about the opportunity to volunteer for the ‘Helping Hampers’ campaign. NCS is a youth programme designed for 16-17 year olds that runs every summer and autumn. The experience is all about empowering young people, to help develop their skills that will set them up for life after school. On NCS, participants live away from home and get a taste of independence as well as positively impacting their local community through a social action project.
Katie said: “I heard about this [PNECET Helping Hampers] because I’ve taken part in NCS. My family are quite involved with Preston [North End], follow them on Facebook, and saw that the Community and Education Trust are doing this really good scheme making hampers for vulnerable people.”
Katie is a student at Newman College and should have been doing her exams. Instead, she’s at home still studying but with plenty of time on her hands and so volunteered a few hours each week to help put together over 70 hampers together for vulnerable people within Preston.
Christine Latus is Preston North End season ticket holder and was a recipient of a PNECET Helping Hamper, she said;
“It’s absolutely wonderful, it’s a real surprise – I didn’t expect anything like this at all, but it’s really helpful and it’s lovely to think that the club are thinking about the supporters in these strange times. We obviously can’t go to matches or anything, so it’s really, really kind, I really appreciate it.”
NCS have recently launched ‘Keep Doing Good’ to help young people take an active role in the recovery of the country after COVID-19.
As part of Katie’s time on NCS she delivered a social action project that had a positive impact on the community. After her volunteering with PNECET Katie is keen to do more volunteering to support the community.
Katie said “It’s been great to help out and support the local community of Preston. I want to continue doing that and look forward to volunteering more in the community. I would encourage other young people my age to take up volunteering, it’s really rewarding and a good use of time”
Preston North End Community and Education Trust Community Partnerships Manager Rebecca Robertson said: “Katie has been a valued volunteer on our PNECET Helping Hampers campaign. She has spent time in our offices at Deepdale helping with making the boxes for our hampers and packing them with food, toiletries and other engaging materials for the vulnerable members of our community.
“It has been great to see one of our NCS graduates getting involved with our community initiatives during this difficult time and we’re looking forward to working with Katie more on the NCS Keep Doing Good project, as we’re sure she can continue making a real impact in our community!”
If you are 15-17 and want to support your local community volunteering then sign up to ‘Keep Doing Good’ and help get your local community back on its feet after.
10-12 West Cliff,
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- Colin Bennett: Why International Day of People with Disabilities is Important3rd December 2021 - 4:20 pm
- Alfie’s performances on and off the pitch highlight the great work of MK Don’s Every Player Counts programme3rd December 2021 - 2:30 pm