Growing the focus on mental health

A group of young teens from Barnsley recently set out on a project with the aim of spreading mental health awareness as well as doing their bit to help out the environment.

The project, named, ‘Roots of You’ was part of their NCS experience with Reds in the Community over the summer. NCS is a 2-week experience, where young people meet new people, take on exciting challenges and complete a social action project, allowing them to impact their local community.

The group were undecided on two passionate topics, raising awareness on mental health or helping the environment. After some planning, the group decided to merge the two areas into one project.

Abi Grant was involved in the ‘Roots of You’ project and commented:

“We chose the project because we felt that mental health is such a huge part of our lives as teenagers, and we understand that people are often scared to share their issues, so having by creating an anonymous way to help people let go was really important to us.”

With the green light given, the group came up with the idea of holding special booths in Barnsley town centre, using their innovative idea to combine both topic areas.

In the booths, members of the public were encouraged to write any stories or ongoing worries involving their mental health on special plant-seeded paper. The young people then planted the seed-paper at Deansgate Care Home, using planters that they had built and painted.

Abi commented:

“We got so many responses from people our age saying how much better they felt after sharing, and how the idea of growing something negative into something beautiful  through the seeds planting, gave them a huge amount of comfort. I was so glad I was able to help.”

“Some of the admissions we got were quite heavy, but that was honestly the most amazing part, as people felt ready to let go of those feelings and allow us to create something meaningful out of it. I felt so privileged to have been able to help people around me in such a big way.

As well as planting new seeds, the young people also supported the overall renovation of Deansgate Care Home to make it a much nicer space for the residents to enjoy.

Not stopping there, the group decided to use their techy-savvy expertise by creating a Google Document and a TikTok page, encouraging further members of the public to get in touch with them and spread their stories. The group found it be a popular choice for anonymous people wanting to share their own experiences.

Leonie Hudson, NCS Coordinator at Reds in the Community had the following to say:

“The group picked this project because members in the group had varying experiences with local mental health services, and they universally agreed that sometimes just telling your story can lift a weight off people’s shoulders. They were incredibly passionate about this idea and they hoped that it would allow people to tell their truths without fear of judgement.”

“The impact was two-fold, the group allowed the community to vent, knowing their stories would be planted and eventually bloom. But they also had a real impact on the residents of Deansgate Care Home, who  now have a lovely garden area to relax in.”

Click here to read about how more young people on NCS have been transforming themselves and their communities.

NCS’ers Launch Project to Combat Period Poverty

Recognising it as a problem that gets overlooked in society, an inspiring group of 9 young women on NCS launched a unique project named ‘Padded, Protected and Proud‘ this summer to combat period poverty.   Read more

“The impact of this programme is so huge it is almost unmeasurable”

These were the words of Hayley Barclay from Club Doncaster Foundation who recently took students from Harrison College in Doncaster on the NCS programme. Read more

Young people host refugee event at Loftus Road

A group of young people on NCS, launched a project this summer to provide some cheer for refugees raising £285. The young people, who were with QPR Community Trust, had the opportunity to make a positive difference within their community through their NCS experience.

NCS is designed for 16–17-year-olds and during their experience they are given a taste of independence, as they mix with new people, taking on exciting challenges and also working on projects to benefit their local communities.

The young people ran an event for a group of local refugees, which was held at QPR’s Loftus Road Stadium. One of the group members, Mohammed, was a refugee himself and was passionate about supporting other refugees within the community. The group felt inspired by Mohammed’s story and so got to work on a project.

The group contacted refugee charity ‘Care for Calais’ and discussed their idea of hosting an event at QPR, involving tours and fun activities for the refugees. On the day of the event at Loftus Road, over 40 people attended and were enthused by the passion shown by the young people, in attempting to provide some cheer.

Families and young children has an evening of fun games, activities and were also shown around Loftus Road. Due to the success of the evening, the group, alongside QPR and ‘Care for Calais’ are now lookign to arrange further events to engage more refugees in the local area.

Mohammed talked to us about the project:

“We needed to help the community, to try to understand how to help people and to make a better society. It was really wonderful and enjoyable to organise the event at Loftus Road, because we made other people happy.

“I enjoyed meeting new people and their children, communicating with them and put smiles on their faces.

Mohammed has felt the positive impact his NCS experience has had upon him whilst working on his refugee social action project at QPR:

“NCS was the best experience I ever had, it was such a great time to meet new friends, to do so many activities and to learn so much. NCS has helped me improve my own skills, such as communication and it has shown me how to talk confidently. I would love to do NCS all over again.”

Not stopping there, the young people launched a Go Fund Me page, raising £285. The money raised was used to provide goodie bags to give out to each refugee attending, containing toys, games, QPR merchandise, food and drinks.

Savannah Pacey was one of the young people involved within the project, she had this to say;

“This was such a rewarding experience for us. We were able to spend an evening with a group of people who we wouldn’t normally have contact with. To hear their stories and see the smiles on the children’s faces was just incredible.

“It has been such an incredible experience. I’ve loved every minute, from the activities in the first week, to the social action project it has just been so rewarding. On top of that I’ve made some great friends too!

“I feel more confident now to go out in the world and challenge myself!”

Click here to find out more about NCS.

Degree programme with County in the Community developed Mo Jallow from a reserved teenager to a mature member of staff at County in the Community.

Having moved to Wales from Gambia, the University of South Wales Degree programme with County in the Community developed Mo Jallow from a reserved teenager to a mature member of staff at County in the Community.

Having initially settled in Aberdare at 13 years old before moving to Newport when he was 16 years old, Mo was always keen and destined to pursue his passion for sport, especially football. Mo was very shy and lacked confidence especially when he was the main focus of a group session whether that would be presenting in the classroom or coaching on the pitch.

However, Mo’s determination and desire to pursue a career in the sports career meant he was open to development and change as an individual to succeed. He studied a BTEC Level 3 in Sports Performance at Llanwern High School as part of the County in the Community college programme before progressing on to the Foundation Degree programme in partnership with the University of South Wales.

The degree programme allowed Mo access to the industry that he had always aspired to. Consequently, his depth of knowledge increased that partnered with his growing confidence evident in his academic success and the level of his coaching and teaching practices. Whilst on the programme, Mo began coaching at the County in the Community college programme and at the County in the Community Premier League Kicks sessions, this exposure and development saw him take up the Premier League Kicks Girl Coordinator role at Newport Community Trust. Alongside this, to further Mo’s knowledge and expertise he shadowed the County in the Community Premier League Primary Stars teachers in schools across Newport, and eventually started delivering PE lessons himself; something that a 16-year-old Mo would never have been comfortable in doing.

Having graduated with the Foundation Degree with a 1st class grade, Mo continued his USW journey by enrolling on the top up the Community Football Coaching and Administration degree.

County in the Community commented: “In the 6 years I have known Mo, seeing him as a shy 16-year-old boy who came down from Aberdare with the ambition to attend our college programme, he has turned into a mature, well rounded, a staff member of County in the Community. The children and young people who attend his sessions think a lot of him as he is very engaging, enthusiastic, and happy to provide opportunities for children and young people.”

Click here to find out more about the degree 


Award Winning young people from Bradford gain recognition from Parliament for project on unwanted sexual behaviour

A group of NCS Changemakers with Bradford City Community Foundation launched a project which aimed at spreading awareness of the need to report unwanted sexual behaviour on British Railways.

The project was a part of a competition pitched by Northern Trains Ltd (NTL), that tasked young people to develop a video campaign that would create awareness of unwanted sexual behaviour on trains and how to report this to the transport police.

From multiple entrants, Bradford’s NCS Changemakers came out on top as they created an impactful campaign, featuring an innovative, yet informative video on the need to report unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport and the ways you can report it to the British Transport Police.

The video and the topic it addresses has been transformational in the rail industry, clearly demonstrating the outstanding contribution young people can make to a range of issues with the right support guidance and support, thus making a positive contribution to communities across the North.

Within the industry and Train Operating Companies, this work by young people has gained universal acclaim across the Rail Industry and was shortlisted at the Women in Rail Awards 2022. Bradford City Community Foundation was the only non-railway organisation who were invited to attend these awards.

The project gained recognition from MPs such as Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up and Caroline Nokes MP – Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee . The UK Parliament Education and Engagement Team invited NTL Richard Isaac Community Manager, Lorna McEwan Chief Inspector Manchester District BTP and 20 young people involved in the project from across the North to present to MPs in the Palace of Westminster.

This gave young people the opportunity to share with MPs such as Holly Lynch MP – Shadow Minister (Home Office) and Hilary Benn MP on why this challenging topic was so important. Additionally, highlighting the importance of understanding the issues affecting young people, allowing them to be part of the debate leading to the development of positive actions and solutions.

We talked to Shamza, who was one of the NCS Changemakers to present the campaign at Parliament:

“The NCS/Northern Rail partnership made it possible to make an anti-sexual harassment video to educate people about trains and to be aware of the potential harm that could occur to them. The video we created has made me aware of different ways people can harass you on trains without noticing, such as up-skirting.  It has been a real eye-opener this project for me personally and we hope this video will give people the confidence to take the train and know what to do if any unwanted sexual behaviour happens.”

“Seeing this project come to life was amazing, the Bradford NCS Change makers have put so much hard work in making the final video by working as a team, being part of the project has been such a huge opportunity. The project is tackling and educating people about an issue which females all around the country are experiencing. Sexual harassment is a massive topic, and it makes me proud to be bringing out the message to make everyone feel safe and heard on and off trains.”

Richard Isaac, Regional Community and Sustainability Manager at Northern Rail is thankful to the young people for their work to tackle this challenging issue on trains. He commented;

“Young people across the North took up the challenge to raise awareness that unwanted sexual behaviour (USB) of any kind is unacceptable and must be reported to the British Transport Police. USB is challenging topic to discuss and something many people would rather not talk about. Supported by NCS youth workers, young people took on the challenge of creating something that would tackle this challenging issue head.

What NCS Changemakers have delivered is a tool to raise awareness of USB and the need for reporting created by young people aimed at young people. Our aim at Northern is to use this resource to engage with young people across the North to raise that awareness.”

Dominik Stingas Paczko, Head of NCS at EFL Trust, who attended the event at Parliament said the following:

“It was fantastic to see the amazing work of our NCS participants being recognised and celebrated in Westminster. Their social action project very much highlighted and helped to tackle a very real issue that affects the national railways, and we hope their videos go a long way to help encourage young people back on to public transport as part of the nation’s recovery from Covid. There is growing evidence that giving young people to confidence and ability to use public transport can have a significant positive impact on their futures and we thank Northern for their continued support for our EFL Trust led NCS programmes.”

To find out more about NCS, click here.

Going the extra mile: Young people in Sheffield complete 7-mile walk, raising money for a Cancer Charity

A group of determined young people recently embarked upon a 7-mile sponsored walk, raising £185.40 towards Cavendish Cancer Care.

The inspiring young group comprised of NCS Changemakers with Sheffield United Community Foundation, who embarked upon a mission to raise money to support cancer patients and families who have undergone such challenging times.

NCS Changemakers compromise of 25 NCS graduates, who meet up regularly to make a real, positive impact in the community. As part of Changemakers, the young people launch a social action project, with the intention of positively impacting their community.

For their project, the young group felt personally motivated to raise money, as members of the group themselves have known people close to them, who have been affected by cancer.

Thus, the young people decided to embark upon a 7-mile sponsored walk and raise £185.50 for Cavendish Cancer Care. The group also thought the walk would benefit themselves, as it would provide a good break from exam-related stress they were experiencing.

Cavendish Cancer Care had this to say about the project:

“The support that we get from organisations like Sheffield United Community Foundation’s NCS Changemakers makes all the difference to our charity. £185.40 will help to provide 6 sessions of therapy and support for people facing cancer. As a charity, we are heavily reliant on the generosity of others to keep our centre open, and it was great to see these young people taking the time and effort on Saturday to walk between Sheffield and Rotherham in aid of us.”

Additionally, the young people encouraged that it would provide a good opportunity of reflection for all the group, in sharing their own personal experiences of how cancer has affected them.

Fern and Alex were some of the young Changemakers involved and commented on their motivations to undertake the project.


“A close school friend of mine died from cancer last year. He received fantastic care from charities and hospitals. I would wish anyone with cancer to receive the same loving care.”


“I have not lost anyone in my life because of cancer but I think that what Cavendish Cancer Care do as a charity for those who are affected by cancer is brilliant! The sponsored walk was worth every step for the charity, and it was also enjoyable to get to spend time with the other young people.”

To find out more about NCS, please click here.

Determined Hull Teens do their bit for the Environment

A group of young people from Hull City FC’s Tigers Trust, completed a beach clean-up at Bridlington Beach last week, as they embarked upon their mission to improving their local environment.

The inspiring group are part of the Tiger’s Trust NCS Changemakers programme. NCS is the ultimate experience for young people aged 16-17, in which they are given the opportunity to make new friends, develop new skills and create new memories. NCS Changemakers, compromise of 25 NCS graduates, who meet up regularly to make a real, positive impact in the community.

The group banded together for their #NCSActionDay project, with the intention of leaving an environmental impact, by reducing the amount of rubbish and waste from the beaches on the East Coast of England. The young group also used their tech-savvy skills, as they used social media to promote the reduction of litter, emphasising the point to others of taking care of the environment.

The team were motivated from the onset, in sending a message and leaving a positive environmental impact, as they felt that there was a large amount of litter within their community and decided to take action. The action was decided after performing a brainstorming and mind-mapping exercise, giving the group some ideas on what they wanted to do, leading towards the beach clean-up.

Brooke and Jazz, were some of the inspiring NCS Changemakers involved within the project, and both had this to say:

Brooke, – “The beach clean-up felt very rewarding to me because going round the beach and cleaning up the litter and garbage for the people and the animals made us feel better because we were helping with the environment. This made me feel better knowing there was a much smaller amount of rubbish on the beach now, than when we started.”

Jazz, – “By having an input and making the environment a safer and cleaner place for the locals and tourists, the smallest of inputs can make someone’s day. I’m proud to say I was a part of this project.”

The group were also joined by Dominik Stingas Paczko, Head of NCS at EFL Trust, who also joined in their efforts of leaving an environmental impact during their clean-up of Bridlington Beach.

NCS Officer of Tigers Trust, Elliott Greenfield, said he was proud of the difference the Changemakers group were able to make at Bridlington and hopes that it can provide inspiration for other young people to make a difference.

He said:

“It was fantastic to get out in Bridlington to collect some litter and the group managed to collect many bags of litter to help reduce the environmental impact along the East Yorkshire coastline. I am incredibly proud of our young people for coming together and delivering this ace project.

“Thanks to Northern rail for providing the services for us to access Bridlington from Hull, it was a memorable day using your trains and definitely made the journey quicker, easier and more comfortable.”

“Another thank you to Dom, the Head of NCS, for coming along to our social action project and getting involved!”

To find out more about NCS, please click here.

Sadiyah finds her voice on NCS

Sadiyah Desai, 19, is an inspiring young person who overcame the restrictions of her life-long disability, after building her skills and confidence through NCS with Preston North End Community and Education Trust (PNECT).

For most young people, acquiring the confidence to meet new people and push out of their comfort zone, can be a daunting process. Sadiyah Desai, has learning difficulties and severe sight loss, which has seriously lowered her confidence levels throughout her life. However, she owes her newfound confidence to the NCS programme and staff since encountering the opportunity to join NCS with PNECT, Sadiyah embraced the chance and has since seen her life transformed.

Sadiyah initially joined NCS with PNECT during Summer last year. NCS is the ultimate experience for young people aged 16-17, in which they are given the opportunity to make new friends, develop new skills and create new memories. The opportunity was offered to Sadiyah within her college who   encouraged her to get involved.

Sadiyah summarises her time on NCS with PNECT:

 “If it wasn’t for NCS coming into our college it is probably something I never would have had the opportunity to sign up nor would I have signed up for it.”

“NCS helped me gain confidence and impacted my confidence in everyday life or any work that related to college. I can now say that I have achieved something.”

“My time on NCS helped me gain confidence in asking for support and showed me it is not something to be ashamed off this has had a very positive impact on what I can now do at college and even at home. NCS has showed me how much I can achieve and I have achieved.”

As part of the programme, Sadiyah participated in a disability awareness workshop, in which Sadiyah approached NCS team members and spoke up about how her own disability has affected her confidence and self-esteem levels throughout her life.

Sadiyah was encouraged within the programme to speak about topics and areas she was most passionate about to group members. As a devote Muslim, Sadiyah was passionate about her faith and illustrated enlightening items connected to her faith. Sadiyah was motivated to talk to the group further on her religion and about her community.

This is where Sadiyah’s confidence began to come through and for the first time did public speaking.  in which she developed her confidence, presentation and public-speaking skills.

Brad North, NCS Co-ordinator was key in supporting Sadiyah throughout her time on NCS and had this to say:

“Sadiyah transformed from someone who could not speak to her classmates or answer questions in a classroom environment to speaking with confidence to some of the most senior officials connected with both NCS and her college.”

“Her journey is one the NCS team will always be proud of and it continues to motivate the team to deliver NCS in the hope to inspire the next young person.”

During her NCS experience, Sadiyah also greatly enjoyed the number of activities that was provided to her, in particular Zumba, in which she discussed with us about her joy of participating in.

“My favourite NCS activity to do was leading Zumba. Before NCS I never would have had the confidence to lead Zumba. However, NCS allowed me the opportunity to achieve that. I always thought people would laugh at the thought of me doing any type of chorography. With the help of Brad and Jess I started to lead the session and that is an experience I will never forget.”

“I taught myself something that day, that if you think you are good at something, then never be scared of expressing yourself. Leading Zumba is an experience I will never forget and is something I continue to do in class on a regular basis and NCS gave me that opportunity.”

After developing herself in such as short amount of time, Sadiyah felt transformed and motivated to continue in enlightening and helping others in areas that she was passionate about. This led to Sadiyah volunteering to the NCS Changemakers programme at PNECET, in which Sadiyah will be front and centre leading on upcoming Ramadan projects.

More recently, Sadiyah has had the opportunity to speak about her NCS Journey and the impact it has had with key figures which included the Chancellor of the Ducy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay and CEO of NCS, Mark Gifford.

Steve Barclay Minister for the Cabinet Office of the United Kingdom visits Preston North End Community and Education Trust

Sadiyah met Mark at PNE’s annual NCS matchday and was selected by PNECET to be their special guest. She said:

“I really enjoyed it, I was so happy that I was chosen to attend the match day out of all the NCS participants, it just shows you how much I have achieved. The whole experience has made a massive impact on my confidence, everything has gone really well for me since doing NCS.”

“I have changed a lot, I can now confidently submit a good piece of work and it has shown my strengths. The match day highlighted this as it showed me how far I had come.”

The extent of the journey and transformation that Sadiyah has embarked upon has been remarkable, in which  for Sadiyah, who is now equipped with new skills and charisma, is in the perfect position to now progress further and reach her potential.

To find out more about NCS, click here.

From No GCSE to Top Grades: How Bristol City Helped Millie.

Mille joined the Bristol City’s Robins Education programme in 2018, shy, lacking confidence, and with no self-belief after not passing any of her GCSE exams. She found herself unsure of the direction in which she wanted her life to go in. An advertisement for the Robins Foundation Education programme appeared whilst she was trawling social media one night. Despite being nervous, Millie pulled through her uncertainty to attend a taster session to find out more about what the course entailed.

She immediately built a rapport with the coaches and other girls just like her who would be on the same course, consequently Millie enjoyed her time and would soon find herself starting the course. It didn’t take her long to start to emerge from the shell she had burrowed herself into and built a strong relationship with her Sports Lecturer Chloe Rogers. Part of the course required students to complete a certain number of volunteer hours within the academic year. This took her out of her comfort zone and gave her a sense of responsibility she had not had before.

Millie volunteered through various avenues at Bristol City from overseeing the family zone on match days to supporting coaches at holiday camps. As well as this, she also helped out at sessions the Foundation run including Wildcats, Foster Care Sessions and Pan Disability Sessions.

From volunteering, Millie found her passion and quickly realised she wanted to pursue a career in coaching. Through her course and hours of volunteering Millie swiftly developed her coaching skills and secured a part-time coaching job whilst studying.

After 4 years with the Robins Foundation and Education programme, Millie has completed the BTEC Level 3 in National Extended Diploma in Sports and the Foundation Degree in Community Coaching and Development. Millie has now secured a full-time job as a Head Coach with Future Stars.

Sports Lecturer Chloe Rogers said: “Millie is a prime example of what empowering young females can do for females in the industry. Millie has been on a remarkable journey throughout her time at the foundation and this is all down to just a bit of belief in herself, from having minimal GCSE to graduating with the highest grade possible (D*D*D*) alongside 200 + Volunteering hours and a Level 1 Coaching qualification.

It has been a pleasure to witness her growth and see her impact on young females involved in other projects we run and the positive influence she has on young females getting involved in the sport. Millie was an asset to the classroom and her behavior, conversations, and assignments were always a joy to witness. I am very proud of everything Millie has achieved she is as unique as the course we run.”

Millie Rose said: “From starting The Robins Foundation as a young 16-year-old, lacking self-belief, confidence and purpose my four year journey has now come to end with me leaving the Robins Foundation with confidence, character and knowledge. I am going on to a job that I would never have imagined I would achieve – along with the most amazing memories/experience of my journey.”