Making the unnoticed, noticed, “Many of us felt that the homeless go unnoticed in society and we wanted to give them a voice.”

A group of inspiring young teens from Sheffield with Element Society recently set out on a unique mission to impact their local community during their time on the National Citizen Service programme (NCS).

The mission… To help the homeless.

Following a week of adventure which included rock climbing and raft building, the group of 13 young people set to work on improving their community with the delivery of a social action project. Young people on NCS get the opportunity to complete a social action project as part of their experience, where they are given a taste of independence, mix with new people, take on exciting challenges and work on meaningful projects.

For their project, the group agreed that poverty and homelessness is a big issue within the city and felt that it was important to do something about it.

Naming the project ‘Th3 Unnoticed’, the group wanted to acknowledge the lack of awareness of homeless people within the city and started off by handing out food and drink for the homeless people of Sheffield. This was coupled with heartfelt messages and personalised cards of motivation, leading to some tearful emotions of gratitude from the homeless people.

Jon Dennis was one of the young people involved and gave more detail of what the group got up to:

“Many of us felt that the homeless go unnoticed in society and we wanted to give them a voice. It all resulted in a project that we were proud to be a part of.”

“We spent a week spreading awareness through social media about the struggles and misconceptions of rough sleepers in Sheffield. We used our £100 allowance to buy 15 meal deals and hand them out to the homeless in the city centre. We also talked to the homeless and asked them about their experiences of sleeping on the streets.”

Not slowing down, the group then set out a unique social experiment, involving one member of the group acting as a homeless person and then asking the public for help, to see whether anybody showed any concern. The group then gave £10 back to members of the public who did show concern as a sign of appreciation.

The groups endeavour went from strength to strength, as they also created surveys for the public, to gain their perspective on homelessness. The idea behind the surveys, was to help the group to gain some important data on the public’s perspective of the homeless within Sheffield, including how many members of the public would be willing to a help a homeless person, when encountering them in the city centre.

Emily Broadbent, another member of the group had this to say about the project:

“Our project was to help the unnoticed citizens by spreading a message that there is still hope left for the less fortunate. As a group, we all agreed that people shouldn’t still be living on the streets especially with such a wealthy economy surrounding them, as they become unnoticed and put in the shadows.”

Their 2-week experience on NCS has not only helped raise awareness of homelessness in Sheffield, as the young people themselves also gained greatly from such a fantastic collective effort, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and interacting with a wide range of different people within the community.

Will Earp, Programmes Manager at Element Society, commented on the young people’s project:

“The team recognised that in their local area, homelessness rates are increasing, with more and more people sleeping on the streets. They wanted to spread some kindness and joy through their short messages, it was heart-warming to see the responses from some people.”

“Their passion was evident about this topic and the team would love to use Changemaker opportunities to pitch to continue their social action!”

Click here to find out more about NCS.

“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 put a smile on elderly people’s faces

A group of 13 young people recently set out on a project to spread cheer and share essential supplies to their community. 

The project was spearheaded by young people on NCS with Port Vale Foundation. NCS is an experience designed for 16–17-year-olds where they are given a taste of independence, forge new relationships, take on exciting challenges and also working on social action projects to benefit their local communities. 

They  chose to keep their social action project local to home as most of the group are Port Vale fans and so felt passionately raising money for Port Vale Foundation’s ‘Community Cupboard’. The Community Cupboard is an initiative to help people struggling with food poverty within the Stoke on Trent community providing a welcomed support of vital supplies throughout the year for people in need. 

To keep the cupboard up and running, the group raised money at one of Port Vale’s ‘Golden Valiant’s’ sessions. Golden Valiants is part of EFL Trust’s Extra Time Hubs programmes and is aimed to tackle loneliness in elderly people.   

Young met old as the group hosted a Golden Valiants session and hosted a variety of fun and exciting activities, such as a quiz, bake sale, tombola, as well as bonding with the elderly over some hot beverages. The event put a smile on everyone that attended, with elderly people stating their personal enjoyment on bonding with the younger generation.  

The fundraising at Golden Valiants resulted in raising over £200 worth of supplies for the community cupboard. This included young people buying essential food items such as milk, pasta, soups, meat and many others. 

The legacy of the project has already been felt within the local community, with elderly people at Golden Valiants expressing their gratitude for the young people that hosted the event.  

Sadie Haynes, Community Project Co-ordinator AT Port Vale Foundation had the following to say about the project: 

“A huge thankyou to the NCS young people who fundraised for our Community Cupboard, the food that was donated from the monies raised will go a long way in supporting the families in our community who need that support.”  

Click here to find out more about NCS. 

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.

Young people on NCS rejuvenate school garden for local a school

Port Vale Foundation Trust’s (PVFT) young people have been making a significant impact upon themselves and within the community, as they carried out a project at their local school with the aim of increasing student socialisation and their mental health, through renovating a school garden.

As part of PVFT’s NCS programme, young people decided to carry out their social action project at Watermill school, where they attended as students. Watermill school is one of three SEN schools within the local area where PVFT deliver their NCS programme, in which the young students involved within the project have special educational needs.

The group worked immensely on creating a more aesthetically pleasing garden for the school and themselves, allowing the it to be a place where students could relieve any stresses and relax.

For the success of the project, the group decided to use their creativity and organisation skills, as they split the group up into smaller sections, dedicated to specific tasks.

For one of the tasks, the young people weeded and re-dug the area, creating a prettier space. Flowers were also planted, where water features were installed, powered by solar. Also, along this area, young people created a positive stone, featuring positive words, images and messages along with the names of the young people involved, which were permanently engrained onto stones. The main idea for this was to leave a lasting legacy that the Watermill Year 11 young people had during their NCS experience.

Other tasks involved creating a ‘bug hotel’ sanctuary for insects, digging out a flower bed and planting new seeds, re-painting a shed, cutting the apple trees and improving the general overall aesthetics of the garden.

Misbah Mahmood was one of the dedicated young people involved within the project, and had this to say about the experience:

“I really enjoyed my NCS experience and I learnt lots of new skills I would never have learnt. NCS has been really fun and I will miss doing the programme each day!”.

The project generated a massive impact upon the school, its garden, its students as well the young people involved, as they also benefitted greatly from the project, developing new skills, new friends and a stronger mentality through their hard endeavour. NCS Changemakers with PVFT will continue to monitor and improve the school garden in the long-term and uphold the legacy of the project created by the young people involved.

Paul Kirk, teacher at Watermill School had this to say about the legacy of the project:

“The NCS programme has had a huge impact on the social, emotional and cognitive development of our pupils. We have seen the pupils clearly develop their communication, teamwork, problem solving and leadership skills amongst many others. Our young people now often refer to their NCS skills and experiences as some of the highlights of their school life”.


The hard work and dedication from all the young people involved at the project did not go unnoticed by Watermill School, as the school hosted a special NCS Graduation Day for all the young people the be acknowledged and congratulated on their project.

NCS Project Lead at Port Vale Foundation, Jorgie Wallace, has this to say:

“The young people were amazing on the NCS programme, and they really did exceed all of our expectations. Throughout the 2 weeks, young people all pulled together to work as a team and demonstrated various different skills which they can use going into their future.”

 “As a staff team, we really enjoyed working with the young people, they kept us on our toes and definitely left a lasting legacy with their social action project. The young people are all a real asset to the school, NCS and Port Vale Foundation. The Graduation allowed us to celebrate all the success of the young people and recognise all their hard work on this once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“When its dark, look for stars” Young people on NCS in Rotherham launch project to spread positivity and mental health awareness

A young group of inspiring NCS Changemakers with Rotherham United Community Sports Trust have launched a project to spread positive thinking, mental health awareness and to raise money for Young Minds, a local mental health charity. The group set up a variety of different initiatives at Rotherham United’s game against Oxford United this month which was their dedicate NCS Matchday

The NCS Matchday celebrated the success of Rotherham’s NCS 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, as part of this, the Changemakers undertake a social action project, which aims to implement their quest for positive change.

For their social action project, the Rotherham teens came together and decided they wanted to raise awareness about mental health and provide information of how people can receive help if they need someone to talk to. The initiative is part of the ‘Impact’ project which is an ongoing project where young people have been designing and selling merchandise, to raise money for localised mental health groups in Rotherham.

The young people recognised that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of young people suffered with bad mental health and ended up taking their own lives. Thus, the group were inspired to turn their passion into action.

We talked to Abbie Pearson, who was one of the NCS Changemakers involved. Abbie comments:

“We wanted to work with a mental health charity as it’s something that everyone has a connection to. Young Minds was important to us as it works specifically with our age group. Following the Coronavirus pandemic it is important for young people to be able to access support. NCS match day was targeting young people, so it seemed important to use this opportunity to spread positivity and share the message of what Young Minds do. As a group we agreed that we just wanted to offer support and put a smile on some people’s faces with our positive messages.”

The group utilised the busy attendance at Rotherham United’s Matchday, as they held a stall in front of the New York Stadium, containing a large amount of positive merchandise from the ongoing ‘Impact’ project. The merchandise held powerful messages such as, ‘When it’s dark, look for stars’ to encourage people to think positively during difficult times.

The Changemakers were also hands-on, as they ventured around the stadium with leaflets to reinforce the strong messages and buckets to raise money for Young Minds.

Julia, from Young Minds Charity had this to say about the project:

“We are always grateful of people fundraising and raising awareness in regards to Mental Health. There are many people out there who need someone to talk to but may not know where to find the help or feel too introverted to ask for it.”

“A club like Rotherham Utd can do wonders and reach a lot of people who might not usually come forward – they might have saved some lives just by being there with contact details. It’s great to see young people get involved and helping people, keep doing what you’re doing!”

Additionally, the young people also created an innovative wheel of fortune, which was designed with tasks to put a smile on people’s faces, give away freebies and encourage socialisation between people, in which the area at the front of the stadium become a hub of happiness for those taking part.

The Changemakers were also motivated to do some random acts of kindness and make young people happy, as they invited young people at random to take part in a half-time penalty challenge against Club Mascot, Miller Bear on the pitch, which for some young people was an opportunity of a lifetime.

NCS Project Manager, at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, Carla Whitehead had this to say about the legacy of the project:

“All the money raised from the bucket collections are set to go towards Young Minds. Additionally, the money generated from selling the Impact positivity merchandise will also go towards volunteer mental health groups in Rotherham, to ensure they have the money and equipment they need to provide that much needed space and time to health those people who need the outlet.”

“In addition, the positive messages on the merchandise will leave a legacy in itself as the messages are designed to remind people to keep on going and be kind to each other.”

To find out more about NCS, please click here.

NCS Changemakers with Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme launch project to provide vital life skills for adults with learning difficulties

NCS Changemakers at Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme (SWFCCP), have undertaken an exciting kitchen garden project, with the aim of providing essential skills to adults with learning difficulties. For #NCSActionDay this month, Changemakers at SWFCCP put on a sustainable kitchen garden project, which will be completed by May, as well as an afternoon of exciting activities.

NCS Changemakers have been supporting the ‘Sapphire Project’, an initiative to apply a deep, rich and socially inclusive set of day and evening experiences for adults with learning experiences.

The project focuses on activities that the adults may struggle to achieve at home or elsewhere, such as visual, culinary and performing arts, live music, artisanal gardening, environmental awareness as well as general day trips outside.

The Changemakers have been working hard on delivering the kitchen garden project. The project aims at enabling the adults of the charity to learn new skills, by harvesting and growing vegetables, and using the produced goods at the Charity Café, which will continue to provide income and support for the adults in the future.

Original plans of a garden seating area had to be put on hold, however despite the setback, Changemakers were not put off, and showed real resilience and determination during their project. The group came up with the other idea of delivering sustainable, productive and fun activities for the project. NCS Changemakers raised enough money to kickstart the kitchen garden with some new vegetables that will leave a lasting impact in the area.

As well as benefiting from new kitchen garden, the adults also got to experience some other fun activities, which involved bingo games, spaghetti and marshmallow challenges, and karaoke, where the adults were able to sing some spring cheer.

Hugo, is one of the NCS Changemakers involved with the project:

“Me and the other changemakers have worked really hard to raise money for the Sapphire Project, through doing lots of different fundraising initiatives, including our Action Day, which we held an activities day with those at  Sapphire who have learning difficulties.”

“All the money raised will go towards creating a Kitchen Garden and expanding the facilities, enabling more people to use the charity and have better facilities in place.”

Hugo and the Changemakers from SWCCP have committed to supporting the Sapphire Project’s sustainable garden project. They will continue to raise further funds to purchase all the planters, soil and plants for the garden. The project itself, has allowed the young people to display their skills that they have accumulated during their time on NCS and Changemakers, with the intention of  passing on them key skills to the adults and improving their socialisation.

Young people from Barnsley cycled and walked 2,500 miles to support struggling families

Christmas is mostly a period of celebrations and joy for most, however it can provide extenuating difficulties for some families. Recognising this, a group of Changemakers, aged, 16-18, from Reds in the Community (Barnsley FC) set out to suppoort families ahead of the festive period. Read more

Shamza’s Story: From moving to a new country not knowing the language, to receiving praise from the Prime Minister for leading positive Social Action within Bradford

For any young teenager, entering a new country and having to integrate into a new culture, as well as learning a new language can be an unnerving process. This was no different for Shamza, 18, who initially felt uncomfortable after leaving Italy. Fast forward 3 years and Shamza received recognition from the Prime Minister for her work in the community as she continues to work hard to make positive change.

Upon arrival from Italy 3 years ago, Shamza struggled with her confidence and ability to make friends. Shamza was unable to speak English and was deprived of opportunities to engage within her community, as she grew up in a small, low populated town within Northern Italy.

Therefore, upon moving into Bradford, Shamza took it upon herself to join NCS through Bradford City Community Foundation, a type of opportunity Shamza would have dreamt of having in Italy. From the onset, NCS helped Shamza to develop her confidence, social skills and ability to speak the English language, she was now able to get her voice heard.

Shamza talked to us about the skills she learnt and her experience with initially starting in NCS:

“I decided to do NCS because I wanted to meet new people and make friends, I wasn’t very outgoing and felt like maybe this was my chance to have fun and improve my skills.”

“NCS made a huge difference on me, it changed me as a person, made me realise that I’m worth it and that I can make friends and be myself. It gave me many skills such as public speaking, CPR training and many others. I was able to overcome my fears by doing new challenges such as rock-climbing and up-sailing to overcome my fear of heights.”

As part of NCS in Summer 2020, Shamza collaborated with a group to complete a social action project that would benefit her community. The group decided to create an inspiring mural in Bradford, to help celebrate the diversity within Bradford and also to celebrate the work done by key workers during the pandemic.

Shamza said:

We were all very proud of our mural because we know that it has made an impact not only on the people of Bradford, but also on those who see Bradford as a non-welcoming city with dangerous people.”

“It not only changed the perspective of those who live in Bradford, but also those who will see our mural and will be able to have a peek into Bradford through its people’s eyes, they will see our diverse community.”

“It was our way of thanking all those who have been working through COVID, our bus drivers, delivery drivers, nurses, doctors, parents, teachers and every single person that put their life at risk to provide for the community.”

The work done by Shamza and her group in the community of Bradford did not go unrecognised, as she was invited down to Number 10 Downing Street, to join Prime Minister Boris Johnson at a special “Thank You Day” BBQ on Sunday the 4th of July. Shamza was invited, along with other young people from across the country, for their work in supporting their local communities during the pandemic.

Reflecting on her evening at Downing Street and being thanked by the Prime Minister, Shamza said:

“It was amazing, I still can’t believe that it really happened! I spoke with Levi Roots, Sajid Javid and the Prime Minister about the social action project I did with my team in Bradford. The Prime Minster was really encouraging telling us to keep doing good and to be the changemakers this country needs!”

“It was really overwhelming to be part of the first ‘National Thank You Day’ and I’m so grateful to be given this opportunity.”

Despite achieving the pinnacle of community work, Shamza has not grown complacent as she is driven to deliver more social action within communities through joining the Peer Action Collective (PAC) programme, with Bradford City Community Foundation.

The PAC involves 120 peer researchers (aged 16-25), who design their own research questions and work with around 6,500 other young people (aged 10–20). The aim is to find out about young people’s experiences of violence and their views on how they can get involved in making their communities better places to live in.

The EFL Trust is working alongside Bradford City Community Foundation and Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme, to give young people in Bradford and Sheffield a voice to make positive change.

Shamza spoke to us about her role as a Peer Researcher:

“Having witnessed youth crime first-hand and seen the effects of the pandemic on my friends, I’m so excited to be part of this project, which will support over 1,500 young people and help me help my generation to heal and thrive.”

“Being a peer researcher means I can find out more about young people’s experiences in my area and then take action to improve their lives. Being a PAC peer researcher appeals to me as a way of learning more about the causes of crime as well as how to prevent it and change teens’ minds. Obviously, if we can’t change our generation now, these problems are going to be our future.”

As part of PAC, Shamza along with other PAC members were involved in anti-bullying initiatives to help high school students. Shamza and her group created fun games for the students to participate in, which all had the goal of raising awareness on bullying and hearing the voices of students who have been affected bullying from all perspectives.

Throughout the community work conducted, Shamza has continued her passion to impact as many individuals as possible within the community. Shamza now wants to further this passion as she is now set to join the Police Force, to continue helping people.

Shamza discussed her motives behind applying to the Police Force:

“I could have gone to university as my parents encouraged, however because of my work done in the community and my time on NCS, I am driven to helping people and that’s what motived me to getting involved in Public Services. NCS have been a big motivator for me wanting to help people.”

Making the world aware of her journey, Shamza was recently centre stage at the 2022 EFL Trust National Conference, where she was invited to talk to over 100 audience members, displaying truly how far she has come.


With years of inspiring social action and gaining recognition from the top, it’s fair to say Shamza has transformed communities, individuals and herself in comparison to where she was 3 years ago and where she is now.

NCS Graduate Connor Burleigh sets on making more of an impact as an official #iwill Ambassador and EFL Trust Youth Forum Member

Connor, who is an EFL Trust NCS Graduate, initially took part in NCS in the Summer of 2018 with Club Doncaster Foundation. Since then, Connor has been selected as a National #iwill Ambassador, as he wants to continue in his passion for making positive differences with communities and empower more young people to volunteer.

Since his time on NCS, Connor has continued to make differences in the local community. Connor joined the Changemaker initiative, where he is a voice for young people in Yorkshire and Humber. Outside of NCS, Connor has also been helping the community through his involvement within Doncaster’s Youth Council. Connor’s magnificent work has been well documented, as he was awarded with the Princess Diana Award for his work on anti-bullying in schools.

Since a young age, Connor has suffered with Autism, which affected his ability in social situations, specifically during his time at Primary school and early secondary school. However, since engaging in voluntary work through his school and during his time on NCS, Connor’s life has been transformed.

From a nervous speaker who was uncomfortable during the Youth Council meetings, to giving talks in classrooms full of students in schools. Connor’s work in the community, in addition to his own skills and confidence have gone from strength to strength.

After positively engaging in social action with his own communities, Connor has been recognised nationally and has been given the incredible responsibility of being an official #iwill Ambassador. Now, as an ambassador, Connor is on the path to encouraging other young people like himself, to generate positive social action within their communities.

The #iwill campaign was launched in 2013, with the motive of empowering and supporting young people in their effort to making change within their communities. As we celebrate the Power of Youth this week through #iwillweek,  Connor will be front and centre representing young people.

We caught up with Connor, as he discussed his experiences as an #iwill Ambassador:

During my time as a #iwill ambassador, I have attended a number of different events representing the #iwill campaign, including the People’s Powerhouse conference in 2019 and speaking at a panel of how social action helps develop character education at the Westminster Educational forum. I have been honoured to have been given the opportunity to promote social action to more young people across the country through this role.”

“Youth social action is important not only because it allows for young people to give back to their local communities, but it also allows for them to develop a variety of different skills along with meeting people from all walks of life that you might not have met otherwise. 

“My personal favourite part of it is meeting other #iwill ambassadors as it is always great to see what other young people are doing as well as being an inspiring and motivational experience.”

So what is next for Connor? Connor is set to continue expanding his already well recognised work within communities as an #iwill ambassador. Additionally, Connor has also gone onto studying International Relations at the newly crowned top ranked university in the UK, the University of St Andrews. With an exciting career path paved out, and after accumulating an incredible CV, there is just no stopping Connor.

Click here to find out more about Connor’s story.

To see more inspirational young people participate in social action such as Connor, view #iwillweek on Instagram and Twitter and spread the movement!