This summer nearly 200 local young people took part in fundraising and community support through the National Citizen Service delivered by Prospects, the education, employment and skills company. The 170 young citizens from across South Gloucestershire gave up some of their summer holidays to make their local communities a better place.
Working in teams, the young people selected a local community group or charity, approached them and started fundraising. The total raised by the teams over the summer was an impressive £7,180.30.
It wasn’t just the money that made a difference, the young people involved were able to make a positive difference and leave a lasting legacy in their communities, as well as gain new skills themselves. The community groups and charities supported reflected the causes closest to the hearts of young people in South Gloucestershire, including homelessness, environmental and welfare charities, special needs schools, elderly day care, young people in care and their local community.
The young people’s innovative fundraising approaches enabled them to gain support from friends and family, local organisations as well as major corporations including B&Q, Tesco, Morrisons, Band Q and Cribbs Causeway. The teams raised money through bag packing, cake sales, non-uniform days at school, fetes, bingo, sponsored bike rides, coffee mornings and jumble sales. They promoted their involvement by delivering leaflets, putting up posters, inviting MPs to see their fundraising and being interviewed by the BBC.
Once the funds were raised, the teams rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in with their projects. One team took a group of elderly people who attend the Turnberries Community Centre for a day trip to Weston-Super-Mare. Two teams raised funds and then dug and planted sensory gardens for Culverhill Special School and Hop, Skip and Jump, a local respite centre for disabled children. The B Team or Bumble Bees Team designed and dug a bee-friendly garden at the Chantry Community Centre in Thornbury, buying all the plants required locally from FEED Bristol, supporting local social enterprise. Picnic and sensory boxes were created for Anderson School who work with autistic children whilst another team helped Woodhouse Park Scouts refurbish their tired play area to create a safe and stimulating space for the local community groups, including the scouts, who use the area..
Two homeless charities received support, youth homelessness charity 16-25’s temporary housing was redecorated and their garden revitalised whilst Kingswood SGYH’s homeless shelter was refurbished and they received homelessness survival packs put together by the team.
The team that raised the most funds, £1,237, chose to support Stroud Foodbank. The team, who will be staying in the sixth form, have agreed with their school to continue their support for the foodbank through an annual fete and regular fundraising, ensuring their four week NCS stint is providing an ongoing benefit for the people of Stroud.
All of the projects delivered made an impact in their local communities, but one team was outstanding and won the Best Social Action project at the graduation ceremony which celebrated all the achievements of those who completed their National Citizen Service. The A Team chose to work with a local branch of a national charity TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) raising money to decorate the centre to make it more welcoming and run activities for the children in care. The team worked with the charity who organised for eight of their children to join the team for the day enabling the team to interact with the children and learn more about their lives, increasing their empathy and knowledge on the issue. Together they painted a wildlife scene on the wall of the contact room and ran a football tournament in a nearby park.
With funds leftover from the project the team donated £684.04 to set up a support group for young Afghan boys who are fostered in the UK. Many of these children have been separated from their families, come from war torn areas and speak very little English. The support group will aim to help them feel less isolated by the language barriers in their new homes by bringing them together and providing them with materials such as books and games in their own language.
More than 150 of the young people who started the programme this year in South Gloucestershire attended the graduation ceremony held to celebrate their achievements. Coming from very different backgrounds they worked hard together to make a mark on their communities, meeting new friends along the way and developing their leadership skills, community spirit and improving their confidence and determination. The National Citizen Service is a four week programme that involved a week away from home at an outdoor centre; a week away developing new skills and team building and 60 hours over two weeks designing and delivering a social project in South Gloucestershire.
The National Citizen Service programme will run again in the autumn, if you are interested in getting involved contact Lynne Speak or Victoria Wright on 01452 426900.
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Notes to Editor
Photographs from the graduation event and the projects are attached.
The National Citizen Service in South Gloucestershire is delivered by the Gloucestershire Youth Support Team.
Prospects has delivered targeted youth support on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council since 2008 and in April 2013, the contract was expanded and extended for another three years. The Youth Support Team works with approximately 6,000 vulnerable young people in Gloucestershire. The service targets specific groups of young people who are the most at risk of not making a successful transition into adulthood. The Gloucestershire Youth Support Team also delivers statutory services and operates across Gloucestershire through youth support centres, mobile centres, in schools and with families and young people in their homes. The multi-disciplinary team comprises youth workers, family support, health and careers specialists working with police and probation officers. Acting as an integrated team, they identify young people most at risk and intervene early to prevent issues escalating. The partnership is the first of its kind in England and more than 90% of young people supported by the team say it has made a difference to their lives.
Last year, the success of the unique partnership between Gloucestershire County Council and Prospects was recognised at a national level when they won the best Public/Private Partnership award at the national 2014 Local Government Chronicle (LGC) awards.
For more information please visit: www.prospects.co.uk/WhatWeDo/SocialCareSpecialNeeds/GloucestershireYouthSupport
The Prospects Group is a dynamic and enterprising organisation providing a wide range of education, employment and skills services in the UK and internationally. At the heart of what we do is the drive to improve the life chances, skills and aspirations of everyone we support. Each year we support more than 500,000 young people and adults.
Alona De Havilland