This summer 16 year old students from across the UK took the opportunity to participate in National Citizen Service (NCS) - The Challenge. NCS provided a unique opportunity to mature and grow leadership qualities in the space of a short three weeks.

The aim was to develop on ‘T-R-U-E’ qualities. This stands for Trust, Responsibility, Understanding and Empathy. The first week aimed to hone our trust of one another; we arrived in Durham and were placed in a group of complete strangers. We were then made to do lots of outdoor activities. Between virtually non-stop kayaking and rock climbing bonds between group members strengthened, and before the end of the week we found that we had made many new friends!

The second week had us staying at student accommodation in Reading. As the excitement of single rooms to ourselves ebbed away, it soon dawned on us that catering was not included. We found a ready-made rota for cooking duties in the kitchen and our fate was sealed. Tar-like spaghetti, rubbery chilli and hand-made burgers of varying quality followed. A number of us in this week also helped with creating activities for nursery children whilst others chose to work on business initiatives or even develop their photography skills. During the week we showcased our activities in a large presentation exercise which challenged our presentation and public speaking abilities.

NCS Team

The final week was in many respects the most challenging, at least emotionally. We were introduced to a charity called Jeena International, who specialised in helping sexually abused women and children. We were asked to help raise awareness for this challenging issue. I proposed a 5-a-side football tournament where we would hand out leaflets to all participants. This was the idea we decided to use and resulted in roughly 100 participants. At our graduation ceremony, I learned that the groups in High Wycombe had raised a total of over £23,000 for local charities. We are all immensely proud of this achievement.

I have made some very close friends from many different backgrounds during this time and I now have a larger network of contacts. I now have access to a range of volunteering and career development opportunities. I also plan on attending a number of events and workshops in the future.