On Tuesday September 12th 2017, one of our Youth Zones, OnSide Warrington Youth Club was privileged to welcome The Right Honourable Mr David Cameron to a very special event in Parr Hall, Warrington.
In his capacity as Chair of the Patrons of the National Citizen Service, the event celebrated the achievements of the young people who have completed the National Citizen Service over the past three months.
The National Citizen Service is a once in a lifetime opportunity, open to all 16 to 17 year olds in England, it helps them to build skills for work and for life whilst taking on new challenges and, according to many of the participants, “making great friendships for life”. Every young person spends time with 15 other young people, taking part in four distinct chapters of what becomes a unique and personal NCS journey.
The programme was introduced in 2010 as part of the Big Society agenda during Mr Cameron’s office as Prime Minister. The National Citizen Service has been an extremely successful programme with over 275,000 young people undertaking on a national basis since 2011. The programme culminates in a social action project, which provides a platform from which most young people continue volunteering for many years.
Mr Cameron joined over 90 people in Parr Hall, including young people from across Warrington and Bolton who have undertaken the NCS programme this year and over previous years. Through a ‘Question Time’ style forum he was regaled with stories from young people about the life changing impact the NCS programme had. Many of them had received support to move on from difficult experiences, many others had been able to use the programme as an opportunity to stand back and consider their future career options.
The second group of people to have the opportunity to enter a forum with Mr Cameron were a combination of parents and carers, teachers and lecturers who spoke with passion about the difference they had experienced with their children or students following the programme. Local charities who had benefited from the social action projects gave glowing accounts of the positive impact the young people had during the NCS programme. Representatives from local businesses explained how their employees had benefitted from the experience of running sessions for the young people.
The afternoon was concluded by an address by Mr Cameron to those present thanking them for their support of the programme and congratulating the graduates for their achievements.
Mr Cameron commented “I was bowled over by the enthusiasm of the NCS graduates I met today. They told me about the skills they’ve learned, the friends they’ve made and the confidence they’ve gained. I felt hugely proud that the scheme is making such a big difference to young lives.
“I really enjoyed speaking to parents, teachers and people from local charities and businesses too about the positive impact they’ve seen NCS have at home, in the classroom and in the community. That’s what NCS is all about – happier, more resilient and resourceful young people.
“Warrington and Bolton have embraced NCS and, in my role as Chair of the NCS Board of Patrons, I will work harder than ever to make sure more young people have the opportunity too.”
Baroness Newlove of Warrington then thanked Mr Cameron for attending the event in Warrington and meeting the young people.
Dave McNicholl, Chief Executive of OnSide Warrington Youth Club explained:
“We are thrilled that Mr Cameron visited Warrington and met with so many young people from both Warrington and Bolton who have completed the programme both this year and since 2011.
“I have been astounded over the past six years by the way young people embrace the programme and work together far more effectively and quickly than we ever think they will, to have a very positive impact on the local community, and in turn themselves.
“It is an honour that both Mr Cameron, Michael Lynas the Chief Executive of the National Citizen Service and Baroness Newlove of Warrington came to meet our young people, an event which we will all remember with pride.”