NCS: Overall Review

PrintI have just finished my NCS ‘it all starts at yes’ summer experience! I have done individual blog posts about each week of NCS, which I will link you to at the end. But now I want to bring together all four weeks of NCS and sum it up in one overall review. I wanted to do this as I know how hard it is to find an honest review on NCS, all the reviews on their website are bias and clearly promote NCS. However I am not paid by NCS or sponsored by them or anything like that so I can give you a very honest review on the programme. So here is my review on NCS:

“NCS has been an interesting experience for me. I learnt many life lessons and overcame my fear of living away from home. NCS also helped me to overcome my fear of homesickness and as a result I feel less apprehensive about moving away to university. NCS also gave me the opportunity to do activities I would never normally have the opportunity to do. Therefore I tried many new things from paddle boarding to bag packing to archery to car washing. It really did give me a wealth of experience! However NCS did not change me as a person, I am still the same girl who started NCS four weeks ago. NCS has not made me change my outlook on life. My confidence has not grown as a result of NCS, I am still as quiet and shy as I was on day one. But what NCS did give me was a purpose, I woke up in the morning knowing that I was doing something good and helpful. It also gave me an interest for 4 weeks throughout the summer, whereas I would normally have wasted my holidays inside watching TV. Really for me NCS was all about the experience, the experience to try out new things and an experience I can look back on. I did have my ups and downs with NCS and there were points where I was contemplating dropping out, but overall I am glad I stuck with it.”

There we have it my overall review of National Citizens Service! What an experience it has been! It feels like ages ago when I first hoped on the bus at week 1! Now I am just waiting for my graduation day which is set to be some time in September.

Although I have really enjoyed my NCS experience, I wanted to raise a slightly different point. For NCS the student pays £50, while the government pays £1500 for each applicant. With that kind of money being poured into NCS, one has to question: ‘is it worth it?’. The simple answer is no. NCS really is fantastic but I don’t understand why the government funds it. I just feel that the funds for NCS would be better off elsewhere, because really the government is paying for teens to have a cheap holiday. Wouldn’t it be better if the funds were used to increase young people’s mental health services? I don’t know. That is just my opinion anyway. From the student’s point of you it is a great deal, NCS really is worth the £50.  However from the government’s point of view…. I am not so sure!

Anyway thank you all for seeing me through NCS. I thought I would gather up all my NCS blogs and put them in one place for you:

What is NCS?

Why did I sign up for NCS?

NCS Concerns

NCS: Come pack with me!

NCS: Week 1

NCS: Week 2

NCS: Week 3

NCS: Week 4

NCS- Social Action Project

Reviewing my NCS concerns

Answering your NCS questions

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Answering your NCS questions

PrintAre you considering doing National Citizens Service? Or have you already signed up but seeking reassurance? Then you have come to the right place! I took part in NCS in the summer of 2016! From my experience with NCS I would like to help other people by answering some common NCS questions and some more personal questions about my own experience. Hopefully this will give you some more detail about NCS and what is involved. So lets get started!

Do you regret signing up for NCS?

No, not at all. I am so happy that I decided to not only sign up for NCS, but to see it out!

Would you recommend NCS to a friend?

Yeah I think I would. NCS is a great experience, however you must be willing to give it a go and put yourself forward to get the most out of it.

What is the leadership like?

The leaders on my wave were very young! Some of them were actually old enough to do NCS themselves! The youngest leader was 17, while most of the leaders were 18-19 years old. With the ‘older’ leaders being 20 years old. As a result the leader almost became your friend in a way. Some of the leaders were a bit immature and favoured the popular people in the team. Overall the leadership was a bit disorganised and the leaders often didn’t know what was going on.

Can I take my mobile?

Yes. Although NCS encourages you not to, everybody does. For week 1 we had no mobile signal or WiFi. Whereas for week 2 we had super fast WiFi and great signal.

Should I do NCS with a friend?

Yes and no. I did NCS with 3 of my friends: one dropped out, one I fell out with, one I came closer to. A bit of a mix really. I would recommend doing NCS with a person you know, but not your best friend. Having friends there does make it harder to become friends with other people, but at the same time it is good to have a familiar face.

What happens if I become homesick?

Speak to your team leader. Some people on my wave went home early (especially on week 1) due to homesickness. It’s not unusual for people to miss home.

What is the accommodation like?

For week one I stayed in a bell tent. We basically went glamping for the week. The tents were very nice and spacious, there were 4 people in my tent. But some tents only had two people in them! We slept on air mats which were not hugely comfy, but they were alright. For week 2 we slept in university style accommodation, where we all had single ensuite rooms. The rooms were fantastic, we had locking doors and mini fridges in our rooms.

Is the food good?

The food varied. For week one there was always four options available, while for week 2 there was only one option. The quality of the food was good, except the weird sandwich fillings (cottage cheese and spinach?!). Being a vegetarian, there were options available. However one time the veggie option had been taken, so I missed out on lunch that day.

What skill did you chose for part 2?

Actually I didn’t. For part 2 we were never asked to pick a skill. We missed that bit out for some reason.

Do I get a free NCS T-shirt?

No. When signing up to NCS I thought we got a free t-shirt, it turns out you have to buy them. My NCS provider sold the t-shirts at £7 each, or a hoodie for £16.


That is it, some of the most commonly asked questions about NCS. If you have any questions about NCS, then feel free to leave them down below! I will do my best to get in contact with you as soon as I can!

NCS: Week 4

Week 4 of National Citizens Service is all about giving back to the community! During the week we conducted numerous events in order to raise money and awareness for mental health issues. These involved multiple fund raising events. Our aim was to raise as much money as possible through out the week, in order to use that money to fund our fun day. Then any money generated from the fun day or left over would go to our chosen charity. I know it sounds a bit strange to raise money for a fun day, and you may ask ‘Why not give it straight to charity?’. Well the truth is we need to do 30 hours of social action and without a quality fun day we would be under the required hours and would not be able to graduate from NCS. Not only this the fun day is a great way to raise awareness rather than money. So here is an honest account of how everything went:

Pre-week work

On the Saturday before week 4, we started working on advertising our fun run. Myself and one other team member headed down to our local park run to hand out flyers. To be honest it was quite awkward and I didn’t particularly enjoy it! Not only this we had to actually volunteer with them. So I found myself in a fluorescent jacket, with a clip board to write down times and positions. Effectiveness? Well we handed out about 70 flyers, but the problem was the fact that a lot of the runners were holiday makers and wouldn’t be around. Another two members of our team went to a different park run that same day to hand out flyers, while another 2 team members went to an another park run on the Sunday. So we ended up handing out flyers for our fun run at 3 different park runs! However it didn’t all go smoothly. On the Saturday 5 members of our team had a stall on the local market. They had baked cakes, planned their face painting, made their jewelry and were ready to start trading. However once they arrived it turned out that our ‘charity stall’ was non-existent! Because we had arranged it on the phone, we had no written proof that we had a market stall. So the team was turned away! As I wasn’t there, I am not overly sure what happened exactly. I think they tried to sell their cakes by walking up to people with a tray, but I am pretty sure the market people were not happy with them, as other people were paying to be there!

Day 1

One girl headed out to sell some cakes and ended up making a fortune of £38.90. While one of the other girls in my team sold her cookies at her work, making a solid £9.93. So we had already made a huge profit! Another 3 members of my team went out charity collecting where they stood in the town centre with collection buckets. By the end of the day they had made £31. While I along with another 4 members of my team headed off to an industrial estate to do car washing. We spent two hours there and in that time the five of us managed to wash six cars. I know that doesn’t sound that many, but trust me car washing is much harder than we anticipated. The first car took 3 of us a good hour to do! The cars were squeaky clean once we had finished, to be honest we could have spent a  whole day there! We cleaned the cars for a donation rather than specifying an exact price. However everyone gave us five pounds, so we ended up making a good £30 for our work. By the end of day one we had: £135 from our online donations page, £38.90 from cake sales, £9.93 from cookie sales, £30 from car washing and £31 from charity collections. This left us with a total of £238.83. However we have to minus the bouncy castle fee for our fun day which is £60.  Therefore it left us with a running total of £184.83 which would go straight to charity.

Day 2

The team split in up, with the majority (including me) organising our own fun run! I have to admit I was rather worried about it as I felt nobody would bother to turn up! But after advertising it at 3 park runs and the local high street, we actually got more than one person to turn up! We arrived at 8:30 to set up our gazebo, tables, chairs and mark out the route. We kind of messed up the distances a bit, but never the less we just let the kids run around the field until they fell flat on their face! We provided them with a free cup of water at the finish. Accompanied by this we had a cake sale, where we sold some of our homemade produce at 50p a cake or 3 for a pound. We had a solid 16 people turn up to run, which was astonishing as I thought we would struggle to get 5! We charged £3.50 for each runner, which I was hesitant about as it is ridiculously expensive! So I really didn’t want to take the money off the people. Overall combing the entry fee and cake sales we made about £86! This proved to be one of the biggest earners! While the majority were out organising the fun run, the other members of our team were out selling cakes in the town centre. They sold 20 chocolate brownies, 20 flapjacks and 80 cupcakes, which meant they sold out and ran out of stock! They produced an outstanding £73 from their cake sale! Which meant for the day we had a combined total of £159. We then added this on to the running total from the previous day which was at £184.83, to make a standing total of £343.83 for our chosen charity!

Day 3

After spending a good week chasing supermarkets to ask about bag packing we finally got in! We headed down to our local Morrisons to do bag packing for 3 hours. The staff there were super friendly and supportive of our charity work. I actually really enjoyed my time bag packing and would happily do it again! The only slight problem we had was the fact that we only had 2 collection buckets, this meant we could only operate at 2 tills. With ten of us turning up for bag packing we worked in pairs, meaning there were 4 on at a time. I found that the experience was great. I actually became a lot closer to the girl I was partnered with as a result and we had great banter together. So much so when they suggested swapping the partnerships around, we politely refused and stayed together! Not only this we had great fun chatting up the customers and everyone was in a really friendly mood! It was fantastic we spoke to a variety of people from young to old, and put a few smiles on people’s faces! I absolutely loved it! It was definitely worth chasing up the supermarkets and practically begging to do it! Overall we made £91 that day, which is astonishing!

Day 4

Bag packing again! The team headed back to Morrison’s for day two of bag packing. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it due to transport. The problem was from my house to Morrisons was a solid hours drive. Which obviously meant transport was a bit of an issue, not only this to go by bus would have been even slower. So I ended up giving the day a miss, which is a shame as I really enjoyed bag packing. Instead I spent the day at home baking for the fun day the following day. I baked a carrot cake, a lemon drizzle cake, oat cookies, chocolate cookies and I bought some toffee doughnuts! The bag packing team managed to bring in £37, which can I point out is significantly lower than when I was there. I clearly add a lot of value to the team. 😉

Day 5

The last day of NCS! Wow! We planned for the ultimate fun day, to celebrate our time at NCS. We had a bouncy castle, jewellery stand, face painting, raffle, tombola, badge making, hook a duck, garden Jenga, large chess, cake stall, fizzy drinks and guess the sweets in a jar. It was fair to say the fun day was packed with stalls and activities, but to our great disappointment practically nobody turned up! It was such a shame! We spent ages setting up tables, gazebos and carrying chairs…all for nothing! It was quite an anti-climax to our eventful NCS experience. It was such a shame the fun day was a flop. I knew the bouncy castle was a bad idea, not to mention we were ripped off! The bouncy castle was £50, we then paid an extra £10 for stocks and other fair ground games. The ‘fair games’ would normally of costed £45, but we got it for £10. Well at least we would of done, if they turned up! Apparently they were all ‘broken’ at the previous event, so we ended up over paying £10! Which I know may not seem a lot, but still that is £10 robbed from charity! Even though the fun day was a bit of a disaster, we still had lots of fun and I enjoyed spending a day out in the sun with my friends.

Overall we made just over £600 for our chosen charity: ‘In Charley’s Memory’. Week 4 really did have its ups and downs. Some events were better and more successful than others. However we still managed to raise some money for charity and raised awareness of mental health issues. On the whole it was reasonably successful. So that’s it now, I have officially finished NCS! Yes! I’m going to do an overall final review of my NCS experience, where I will tie the weeks together. I’m also going to answer some commonly asked questions about NCS, to help those of you who are considering doing it! Then in a few months time I will be off to celebrate at my graduation day, so I will keep you updated! But for now thank you all for being there for me as I documented my highs and lows of NCS!

NCS: Week 3

I’m now onto week 3 of my National Citizens Service (NCS) experience! Week 3 is all about planning your social action project. You will be based reasonably locally, and will meet up with your team to plan week 4. My team met up at a college, where we were based in a classroom. The college was about a 40 minute drive from my house, so it was a bit of a journey. Also this is the non-residential part of the NCS course, where we met up from 10am until 4pm.

Day 1

My team all met up in the car park, once most of the group had arrived we headed into the college. We walked around a bit until we found the correct block and the correct classroom that had been allocated to us. The classroom was fairly big and had comfy chairs, so all was good. We started off by scribbling down any ideas we had and we soon established that we wanted to do a fun day. We then looked at potential venues which ranged from Church Halls to Community Gardens to School fields. We constructed a list of possible venues for our fun day and then ranked them in order of preference. We then looked at dates and planned to held our fun day on Friday 12th August (our last NCS day). Once we had a date in mind we looked into contacting the venues. Luckily one member of our group worked at a local leisure centre, so they were able to secure us the use of their field for free! With a venue, date and time sorted. We decided to work out the exact contents of the fun day and what we could do. Many ideas were thrown around from BBQs to face painting to raffles etc. Once we had a rough idea we all split up into individual groups and worked on different things. I worked on planning the contents of the fun day and looked into the resources we would need and how we could obtain them. One guy in our team knew a few local bands, so he contacted them to ask if they would be interested in playing at our charity event. Two of the girls in our team worked on designing t-shirts to help with our fund-raising campaign. We also set up a Twitter and Facebook account for our project, alongside a JustGiving page. The team also got in touch with two of the charity’s we were hoping to support. One was a very local charity called ‘In Charley’s Memory’. While the other was a slightly bigger charity called CAMHS. The smaller charity replied and was delighted with our support and were willing to promote it on their Facebook page.

            

Day 2

We reached our second day of planning, where we decided to do a little charity shuffle around. Originally we planed to raise money for two charities: ‘CAMHS’ and ‘In Charley’s Memory’. However after we contacted CAMHS the previous day asking for permission they were yet to respond. As CAMHS had not replied we decided that we would no longer raise money for their charity. It wasn’t a personal issue or anything, but we just  felt that we shouldn’t need to go chasing a charity. If the charity wanted donations then they would have accepted straight away. However we haven’t given up on CAMHS completely, we are still raising awareness for their charity. After our charity drama we decided to get to work. A lot of the team created posters for the family fun day. The posters ranged from electronic (online) posters to A4 posters and A1 posters. We also started to design some flyers that we could potentially hand out. We also created a list of places where we could hand out flyers and stick up posters. We were advertising for our two events: A fun day and a fun run. I volunteered myself to ask one of the local swimming pools if I could put up a poster in their window. I also volunteered myself to hand out flyers at my local park run on the Saturday, alongside two other members of my team. Another two members of my team known as ‘The Media Experts’ set up two events on our Facebook page to help advertise the events and began to invite people along. We also managed to come up with a list of supplies we would need and where we could get them from and the price they would cost. Half of the group decided to take the 30 minute walk down to Tesco to ask about whether we could potentially have some donations for our charity event. As it was a little bit miserable outside I volunteered to stay behind and carry on with the posters. The team that was sent out (accompanied with a leader) came to no avail. Apparently the manager or the guy that was responsible was not in. We also had a bit of a problem with the fun run prices, my team wanted to charge a £5 entry fee. I asked a few of my running friends if they would be interested and they all came back saying it was a bit pricey. I guess I agreed with them considering the park runs are free, and we would not be supplying bottles of water or anything. After a slightly awkward discussion with my team I was able to get them to reduce the price to £3.50. However I was still concerned that it was too expensive, but I did the best I could.

Day 3

We had previously decided that we wanted to hold a fun day, at our fun day we wanted to have a bouncy castle. We got in contact with a few local bouncy castle firms and finally received a reply. We were basically hoping to get the bouncy castle for as cheap as possible as it was for a charity event! The original and standard price was £50, so we got in contact with them and told them about our charity event in the hope of a reduction. We were hoping to get the bouncy castle for about £30-£40. Unfortunately the firm rang us back and said that they could not do a reduction on price. Instead they were willing to throw in a few stocks, a coconut shy and a few other bits and bobs for free. These would normally cost £45 to hire out. This left us with a dilemma, half the team wanted to go ahead with the bouncy castle while others wanted to ditch the idea. One of the main problems was the fact that we had already began advertising the fun day, with a bouncy castle!  A decision was never really made in regards to the bouncy castle, as we decided to look around to potentially find another supplier. From one bad piece of news to another: the t-shirts. My team wanted to get some t-shirts printed in order to wear them at our fundraising events. We had designed a logo to go on the t-shirts and everything! How ever things didn’t go exactly to plan….we wanted to get the t-shirts as cheap as possible, but that didn’t work out. We contacted a local t-shirt printing company and sent them our design, explained it was for charity and waited for their response. We got an email back from them with a quote for the price. For 14 t-shirts printed with our logo it would come to a grand total of £105.That was the cheapest price they could possibly do. It worked out at about £7.50 a t-shirt. I know that £7.50 for one t-shirt isn’t too bad, but when you are buying in bulk it does add up! It was suggested that we all bought cheap white t-shirts and one of the girls in our team would use her fabric pens to draw the logos on herself. I was worried that it would look a bit cheap and tacky, however most of the team were on board with the idea. We also managed to get our hands upon 200 printed flyers, in order to advertise our fun run. They were printed out at the office of our NCS provider for free! We then came up with a list of places where we could put flyers up or hand them out to. Once we worked out places, we looked at how many we would need and decided that we would have to potentially print another 200. Afterwards I was then sent out along with 3 other team members (1 was a leader) to the local high street. Strangely we ended up taking all the socially awkward people to hand out flyers (not the best idea ever). So instead of directly asking people and giving them flyers, we set out to ask shops if we could display our poster in their window. We ended up putting posters in swimming pools, hardware stores, hair dressers, bakeries, banks, cafes, vets, shoe shops, florists and everywhere we could. The only place I was turned away from was WHSmith, who said that they do not put posters in the window, but the woman was very friendly and suggested to me other places I could try. One member of my team was turned away from a charity shop, who said that they would not advertise a charity event that did not support their charity….fair enough. I even posted a flyer through the door of a local launderette as they were not open! We were going into a mobility shop to ask as we noticed that they had lots of posters on their windows. However we felt that it may not be appropriate to ask to advertise a run in a mobility shop! So that ended our trip around the local high street, the four of us managed to dish out 20 leaflets to local shops in about an hour. So not bad work!

Day 4

Please wait, your call is very important to us. Beep. After trying to pin down supermarkets the previous day, we picked up the phones and tried contacting them again. The whole morning went by and we appeared to be doing nothing except sitting around or calling people. We contacted lots of supermarkets but none of them seemed to reply. We got the same ‘Ohh the manager isn’t in today’ or ‘we will call you back later’ over and over again. I guess it is not easy trying to get in to do bag packing last minute. It was then onto getting back in touch with the bouncy castle firm. It turns out that the earlier quote of £50, had been increased to £60 for some unknown reason. I don’t know whether it was a mistake or whether the company saw an opportunity to make some extra money out of some disorganised teens…who knows. We ended up having a team meeting on whether the bouncy castle was a yay or nay. It was awkward. The two girls leading the meeting were absolutely passionate for the bouncy castle and didn’t really open up to any suggestions, but instead asked us for our confirmation. I guess the problem was the two girls leading it were too dominant and too controlling, that nobody had the guts to stand up to them. So all though pretty much the entire team disagreed with the bouncy castle idea, it went ahead. The bouncy castle was booked, for a huge £60. At least someone will make money if we don’t! We then had lunch and spent a lot of time waiting around while one of our leaders drove to the office to print some more posters. We then worked on creating ID cards and took pictures of each other on our phones which was fun, until it was spoiled when someone suggested bringing in their professional camera. The posters arrived back, this time it was the posters for our fun day rather than the charity run. So I found myself heading back out into the high street to pester local shops about putting up posters. We ended up handing 16 out between the 3 of us. However I was kind of frustrated as I went into the high street the previous day and a lot of the shops we gave posters to did not bother to put them up. I mean it’s so annoying when you go there hand them a poster, they smile and be all friendly like they care and then the second you walk away they toss the poster into the bin! I would rather they just said ‘no’ so we didn’t waste a poster. I guess people are too embarrassed to say “no!” to supporting a charity, instead they just pretend to and then throw your efforts into the bin! Out of the 20 posters we handed out the previous day, only 7 of them were actually displayed!

Day 5

We finished on a high! In contrast to the previous day we had a lot more to do. CAMHS finally got in touch with us and sent some leaflets for us to hand out. Although we are not directly fundraising for them as they are apart of the NHS, we are still raising awareness for mental health issues so it is still relevant. The morning was spent folding up the leaflets and finishing off ID badges that we had produced. Our team leader headed out to ‘In Charley’s Memory’ office in order to collect some merchandise. The charity gave us collection buckets, wrist bands and pens. We then had to do some risk assessments, for all our fundraising events. This was quite a boring task that I managed to wriggle my way out of slightly. Two of the girls in my team took the bus home to pick up some face paint, before coming back to practise on people. We were planning on doing face painting at our fun day, but because nobody had any experience we wanted to try it out first. Afterwards I was nominated to go into the select team, who were heading down to Tesco. The 5 selected members of the team (Including me) endured on the 30 minute walk to Tesco. Where we asked about having some fizzy drinks and cups for our fun day. Luckily Tesco were super friendly and gave us 24 litres off fizzy drinks and 200 plastic cups, free of charge. Amazing! We ended up with 12, 2 litre bottles of fizzy drinks in a range of six flavours! A massive shout out to Tesco for supporting us! That was it, we finished the odd job here and there. Before organising and creating a timetable for next week. This allowed us to go home 45 minutes early!

Overall week 3 is obviously a lot more serious than the previous 2 weeks. We got through a lot of work and managed to plan a few fundraising events for next week. At times it was a little boring, especially when we had little to do. One of the best parts was wheeling around the office on spiny chairs, which was super fun! We also had a great time playing catch with a bouncy egg and listening to Frozen songs!

NCS- Social Action Project

For my social action project for National Citizens Service (NCS). My team and I have decided to raise money and awareness for the mental health service. Many people overlook mental health in society and we feel that not enough time, money and consideration is put into it. We want to change this! As a result we have partnered up with ‘Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services’ (CAMHS) and ‘In memory of Charley’. In order to raise funds and awareness for mental health issues. We feel that this is particularly important as many of us know people who have been affected by mental health issues. We also wish to stop the belief that mental health is less important than physical health and the belief that mental health is a decision.

My team: ‘FunderKatz’ have created a JustGiving page where people can donate to our chosen charities. Please donate it really is an amazing cause and we are grateful for even the smallest of donations! Thank you!

Donate!

Or you can share our message on Facebook by liking our page and inviting all your friends! Feel free to share any of our posts!

Our Facebook

Lastly I would like to say a massive thank you on behalf of myself and the rest of my team, for all your fantastic support. Remember. Care, Share and be Aware!

Reviewing my NCS concerns

For those of you who don’t know I have just completed my two residentials with NCS, meaning I am half way through the course. Before I started NCS I was very worried, nervous and concerned. I was even considering dropping out and asking for a refund! But now that I have done the main section of NCS, I really want to go back and review the concerns I did have, in order to help other people.

I wrote a blog post on my concerns before NCS began, you can read it here: NCS Concerns

Now let’s review my concerns and see how far I have come!

The first concern I had was about the people there and not making friends or hating them. Well this is interesting! A lot has happened since I wrote this! I mentioned that I started NCS with 3 friends, well that didn’t go to plan. One of my friends pulled out on the second day of week 1. If you have read my NCS week 2 review you will know that I had some problems with my team. One of the friends I went with ignored me and I had a problem with her. My team didn’t really like me too much, they were not mean. It was more the fact that we were too different, so I was often left out and not included. So I ended up switching teams where I felt more accepted and more importantly where I was happier! During NCS I made one really close friend, who I got really close to during the weeks and we now contact each other regularly over social media. It’s fair to say I lost a bad friend, but gained a good one instead. I now feel a lot more confident about meeting new people, even though I have had a bad experience with friends and socialising.

My second concern was homesickness. This was by far my biggest fear before NCS and it was what made me not want to sign up in the first place! However I completely shocked myself! I was not homesick once! When it came to Friday and it was time to go home, I actually felt a little sad! I was absolutely shocked! I think the reason why I was not homesick was because I was too busy to think about it. I was to focused on what was going on around me to worry about home. Of course I thought of home a little, but it wasn’t too bad and it certainly wasn’t ‘homesickness’. By doing NCS I feel a lot better about moving out and away from home. I said to myself if I can’t spend 5 days away from home at 16, how could I move out to university at 18? I proved to myself that I could do it. Now I feel much more confident about moving to university, than I ever have!

Being unhappy. Hmmm. This is a tricky one. I would be lying to say I was happy all the time while I was there. I cried twice during the 2 weeks: one in public and one in private. I cried during the high ropes as I am terrified of heights and I cried in my room when everyone ignored me and did not include me. So I guess I was a little unhappy at times, yet this was compensated by how much fun I had. Yeah, this is a bit of a mixture. I suppose you can’t be happy all the time, but I did manage to get through it.

I was never properly forced to do any activities. Except the talent show in week 2, where I was practically pushed out of my seat and onto the stage. Apart from that, it was very much a case of “if you really don’t want to then don’t”. My leader told us “It’s our NCS experience, we encourage you to give it a go, but it’s up to you.” So I guess I was never properly forced. I think you have to stand up for yourself a little and say ‘No!’ otherwise you will find yourself doing things that make you unhappy. My advice is give it a go or you may regret it. I tried the high ropes, hated it and then came down straight away. No problem.

When it came to facilities, it was a lot better than I expected it to be. In week 1 we had 4 portable loos and 3 loos with locking doors. I admit the showers and loos were a bit of a long walk from the camp site. It was a solid 10 minute walk across a couple of fields and a small hill, but it wasn’t too bad. I managed to get a shower with a curtain across as I woke up early and showered in the morning to avoid the rush. In week 2 I had an ensuite! It was basically a wet room with a shower and loo.

There we have it, a review on the concerns I had before NCS! I really hope that this may help somebody out there, if it has please leave me a comment or like my post. If you have any concerns or questions about NCS please ask me!

NCS: Week 2

Week 2 of NCS is about living away from home in a university style accommodation. For me I did week 2 at my local college which is about a 15 minute drive from my house. It was a very interesting week and I learnt some valuable life lessons, skills and career opportunities. Here is a day-to-day review of my NCS experience:

Day 1:

We arrived at our college at about 1:30 and was allocated our rooms straight away. My room was a single with an en suite, it wasn’t huge and modern but it was comfortable. I had draws, a mini fridge, mirror, desk, chair, wardrobe, notice board and storage. For me I didn’t bother to unpack as we were only there for 4 nights, so I lived out a suitcase. I was based upstairs in room 8, one of my friends was below me on the ground floor in room 2. While my other friends were in a different block, I admit that they certainly had a better block than ours. They had bigger rooms with double beds and modern showers. Once we finished looking around our new rooms we assembled in the common room, which was a bit run down and grubby. The common room had sofas, vending machines, a pool table and table tennis with no ball. We then had the most disgusting cottage cheese, spinach and onion sandwich. Gross! The rest of the day we did a few team activities. One of the activities consisted of marshmallows and spaghetti, we had to make the tallest tower possible. Let’s just say our team failed slightly. We also explored the local area and had to take pictures at certain places. One of which was a church where two members of the group pretended to get married. There was also a challenge of ‘how many people can you fit in a telephone box’ (9).  On the walk we also played a game of walking alphabet. You know the one like B for building etc. Once we arrived back we had a short while to relax before lights out. Most of my team played online cards against humanity, but I couldn’t get the app so I had to awkwardly sit there instead. The first night of sleep was difficult, mainly because the light in the corridor outside my room was on. The light shined through the window at the top of my door, keeping me awake.

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Walking around the community

Day 2
This day was very hard for me, in my team I have one friend who basically ditched me. I felt so left out and lonely that I was considering going home, but I stuck through it. All the activities were dreadful we made a community out of sticks, had talks about youth parliament, dressed somebody up in bin bags and had a talent show. Our community was awful and the parliament talk was dull and unengaging. We dressed one member of our team up in bin bags, he then did an obstacle course, where we surprisingly came first! Then it was dinner which was actually nice, we had pasta and salad. There was also a gorgeous chocolate cake pudding! Then the dreaded talent show, where I was forced on stage! We had one girl singing and playing the guitar, while 4 others danced. One of the girls in our team was an actual dancer while the others could point their toes a little. My team ended up singing and dancing to ‘This is Gospel’ by Panic at the disco. While the rest of us just stood there and looked awkward. Afterwards I went to the park with my friends from another team, where we laughed and messed around on the zip wire! It is always nice to laugh after a bad day. Then we headed to the local shop where I bought some milk chews- trust me they are nice! I then headed back to my room for a shower, however the shower was broken so I ended up borrowing my friends! Before heading to my comfy bed to snuggle up in my duvet. A hard, tiring and boring day to say the least.

Day 3

I woke up at 6:50, but dropped off back to sleep until my alarm saved me at 7:15. I then got up and headed down to breakfast, which was supposed to be toast but it ended up as warm bread! However to compensate it, I did have an Instagram worthy cappuccino! The first challenge of the day was an activity called “Come dine with me” it was simple make a microwave meal on a student budget of £5. We planned and then sent two representatives to the local shop to purchase ingredients. We then cooked rice in a microwave and made a curry sauce using peppers, tinned tomatoes and curry powder. I contributed by chopping up the peppers and making the rice, while other members of my team made a poster to promote the health benefits. We then presented the meal to our wave leader who judged them, we didn’t win. The actual meal was good and he enjoyed it, but the presentation on the health benefits slacked a bit. Afterwards it was time for lunch, followed by a series of money management workshops. First off we had to look at the costs of first moving out and into a flat, when we leave home. We had to rank the order of importance of several items that need to be paid for when we get our own flat. We then had to match the correct cost to them. Afterwards we moved onto planning our own group holiday on a budget. Each group consisted of 5 people and we had to get a good cheap holiday, along with a research task. We had to find a certain camera online for the cheapest price possible. My group ended up camping in Dublin for 5 days, at about £250 each. The last workshop was about starting our own pop up business. The task was to design a pop up pizza place at a festival, we looked at the actual cost of making a pizza and then the selling price. We worked out how to maximise profit and how to advertise our products correctly. In the evening we went off to EDF (an electricity company) to learn about the employment opportunities there.

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Come dine with me?

Day 4

For me this was a tiring and long day. It was the day where once again I felt excluded from my group. We had to do mock interviews, which involved fancy dress! We had to write out all our previous employment (none), any voluntary work we have done and any qualifications we had. Basically a draft of a CV, without the references. One of the tasks was to work out what this guy was going to wear to an interview. We were given a blank piece of paper and asked to draw the guys clothes in groups of 3. Unfortunately nobody wanted to go with me and the friend I came with had completely ditched me. However one guy in my team noticed I was being left out and volunteered to go with me, big mistake. Afterwards my so-called “friend” started rumours that I fancied him and was flirting with him etc. I mean let’s be honest here he was the only person willing to talk to me! Once that disaster was over we had to do this activity about writing a personal statement. We had paper tapped to our backs and we went around writing nice things on people’s backs. Everything had to be positive, which it was. Although I was accused of writing the same on everybody’s back, which wasn’t true. On my paper I got lots of things like: friendly, kind, quiet and pretty (probably sarcastic). From these words we had to develop a personal statement about our self. In the afternoon we had to plan our social action project for weeks 3 and 4. My group was useless when it came to planning, mainly because nobody really cared and was just there for the holiday. Loads of ideas were thrown around from helping the homeless, disabled children and helping victims of arson. But nothing was really decided. That day I felt more unaccepted than ever, I put up with a whole day of being blanked and ignored. I felt like nobody really wanted me in the team! So I took the bullet so to speak and walked out, to join the other team. I think it was a good decision, the other team really wanted me. I was friends with the majority of their team and knew them well, not only this a space was available as one of the boys in their team had moved to ours. So I picked up the phone and asked my parents. I was a little bit worried as where they were meeting was a little far away, about an extra 10-15 minutes further. However my parents were okay with it, so I switched into their team. We then did an activity called ‘Dragon’s Den’ where we had to present our idea to the judges. My new team was doing a project to raise awareness for mental health issues, they had the whole pitch planned out and it was fantastic! I went up and stood by them, while my old team looked on in shock! My old team’s pitch was rubbish as they had no clue what they were doing. The results were in and my new team won! It was a fantastic ‘in your face’ moment! I was super happy, my old team not so much. We celebrated by heading down to the local park and going on the basket swing! That evening my old team did not speak to me.

Day 5

Going home. It was a long and eventful week, I moved groups, learnt some life skills and dealt with the reality of friendship. I woke up super early and packed everything up in my bags, before heading to breakfast with my new team. I had a full cooked English breakfast (minus the bacon + sausage). That morning I saw my old friend who ditched me, she didn’t speak. She woke up too late for breakfast and ended up with a cup of tea. Her new friends didn’t bother to wake her up in time for breakfast or even check if she was alright. I know if that was me, my friends would be there knocking at my door to make sure I was up! She may have ignored me and upset me all week, but at the end of the day I came out on top. I am with my friends who actually care about me, while she is stuck with her new friends who aren’t exactly great friends. We then wheeled our bags into the common room and spent a while waiting around, before handing back our keys. It was then time for a quick meet up with our team. We did a few small activities, which included how to talk to strangers and advertise our fun day. It was then time to go home, jumping on the bus provoked a mixture of feelings. I was glad to get away from some of the people there, knowing I would not need to see them again! I was also relieved to be going home to see my beautiful dogs and family. Yet I was also sad to leave my university style life behind, oh and my ensuite.

So that’s it! I have done the first two weeks of the NCS course. I didn’t go home early, and I only cried in public once! So not bad at all for me! I’m exactly half way through the course and I have finished the two residentials! The next two weeks are about social action and helping the community, they are based from home! If you have any questions about NCS or want any advice then feel free to comment down below and I will get in touch with you!

NCS: Week 1

On the 18th July I started week 1 of my NCS program, this is the most adventurous week! We were camping in bell tents at a place called Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor. At first I was really nervous and terrified, but I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting! I started NCS with 3 of my friends, so there was 4 of us in total. Here is my account of week 1!

Day 1:

I was picked up from my bus stop at 11:45 am, and began on a 2 hour trip to Wimbleball lake, which is situated in Somerset. On the way we stopped off by a steam train to have our packed lunch, which was enjoyable as it was really sunny! We then arrived at the camp site and dragged our suitcases up to our tents. Unfortunately most of my friends were split up and put in different tents, but luckily I was able to stick with one of my friends. There was the two of us and then two other girls we did not know. They were really friendly, but we decided to move to a different tent. This meant that there were 3 of us in a tent along with one girl who we didn’t know, but soon became friends with. We then had a quick tour of the site and did a few team building activities, which included a blind folded challenge. Then it was chips and salad for dinner, followed by chilling out in our tents and then off to bed on our air mattress. That night I did not sleep until 1 am, mainly because everyone was too excited to sleep.

Day 2:

I woke up at 5:45 in the morning, mainly because the tents were white and the light came in and woke me up! However we didn’t manage to get out of bed until 7:30, when we walked up to the bathrooms to change. We then had breakfast and gathered around to start our 10 mile hike. One of my friends felt ill and decided to stay back at the camp site. We then began our hike, completing challenges along the way. One of which was a spider’s web where we passed people through some rope to reach the other side. We also had to make a fire and make our team a hot chocolate which was delicious. The only problem is that we did it on the hottest day at 30 degrees so we were all sweating beyond belief. I got a few blisters from the hike, but managed to make it around. Once we got back our friend who decided to stay back, decided to go on home as she wasn’t feeling well. We then had spicy noodles for dinner, while we waited for her parents to collect her.

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My team doing the hike

Day 3:

This was the earliest day I woke up at 5:10, before getting up at 6 am for a shower. This was the water sports day, where we did rafting, paddle boarding and kayaking. We got into our wet suits, which were provided and started with raft building. We constructed our own raft an sailed it to a point and back, luckily it did not fall apart in the water! We then did paddle boarding, which I was apprehensive about. However I really enjoyed it and had so much fun! I was even able to stand up on my own! Then it was back to the catering van for lunch where I had the most delicious pasta.  Then we went kayaking, we had two people kayaks which were not great seeing that my partner just couldn’t be bothered to paddle. So it was a little bit of a struggle as we drifted off the back a few times, however I did enjoy it! I did fall off the back of a kayak as we played a game where you had to stand up and swap places with some one on another kayak. This caused me to topple off backwards as 3 people entered my kayak! We then had dinner and went to the park to design our own team flag!

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Rafting

Day 4:

For me this was probably my worst day. We did archery first where I struggled to even hit the target! Then we did climbing, I am dreadful with heights! However I managed to pull myself 3/4 of the way up before coming down. Then lunch was awful I was at the back of the line so there was little left! The pasta was hard and there was little sauce available. But it didn’t get better we were then off to do the high ropes. By now my one friend who was left had began to ditch me for others so I felt a little alone! She kept showing off to the others and befriending them and shunting me to the side a little, so I was feeling quite down. To make it worse I have a massive fear of heights so I ended up full on crying! At least this was the only time I cried during the week, but still it was full on tears! My friend didn’t help either, she didn’t even come and ask if I was alright instead just bragged about her achievements! That evening got worse as all I could have for dinner was egg noodles with no sauce! However I ended the day on a high with an amazing campfire, where we toasted marshmallows on sticks which were beyond delicious.

Day 5:

Coming home! I woke up with a mixture of relief, happiness and sadness. I enjoyed my time there, but was happy to see my family and dogs again. We packed all our stuff up, did one last team activity, before jumping on the bus. Once on the bus we were off home! We arrived home an hour before scheduled to!

That was it, my experience with NCS for week 1! Next week I am on to week 2 in university style accommodation. Overall I enjoyed NCS as I was able to do activities I would never normally do, I tried so many new things and made one really close friend. I wouldn’t say it’s changed me as a person, but I have had fun and met new people and experienced a new way of life. I would totally recommend it!

 

NCS Concerns

On the 18th July (4 days time) I will be taking part in National Citizens Service (NCS). I am extremely nervous and anxious about the whole situation, but I am also pretty excited! Therefore I thought I would come up with a list of all of my concerns, some are general concerns while others are more specific to certain weeks. My concerns are in no particular order of importance!

No friends

Or more specifically not getting on with people. Luckily I know 3 people on my wave, but I am still nervous. What if I don’t get on with the people in my team? I am dreading the thought of having to spend 4 weeks with a group of people I hate. I know that people have different personalities, so with a group of 100 teenagers surely there will be a few personality clashes!

Homesickness

I am a bit of a wimp, I admit it! For me the thought of spending time away from my comfy bed and being away from my family, is horrible. I have done a few small trips away from home before and I absolutely hated it. I cried all the time and just wanted to come home. So the thought of going away for a week is very daunting for me, what makes it worse is the fact that I know that I will be homesick even before I get their.

Being unhappy

The last thing I want is to burst out crying in front of strangers! Not that I want to cry at all of course! I just have a bad feeling that I may not enjoy myself while I am there and spend too much time worrying about things. Not only this I don’t want to be the killjoy and risk ruining other people’s fun with my misery.

Forced to do activities

I know ‘it all starts at yes!’ but for me somethings are just a ‘No!’ One of my biggest concerns is being forced into doing an activity that I do not wish to participate in. I will try to give everything a go, I just hope that my team leader is not too pushy. For me I really don’t want to do high ropes or climbing because I am terrified of heights.

Facilities

When it comes to showers and toilets I like a door with a lock on it. This is mainly for week 1, this concern. I just hope they are not those horrible open showers like they have in swimming pools. Also I hope that there are proper toilets and not porta-loos that are like toxic coffins! Furthermore I hope there is a nice clean sink where I can brush my teeth in peace!

That’s it….I think! A list of my concerns about NCS. Let’s hope these concerns and worries do not happen in real life! Once I have completed NCS I may come back and look over these worries with you, to see how I got on with them!

If you share any of my worries then feel free to leave a comment or perhaps you have different concerns then I would love to hear from you!

Why did I sign up for NCS?

In case you didn’t know, I am participating in NCS next week. I wanted to discuss with you all the reasons why I decided to sign up.

Reason 1: Confidence

For those of you who do not know, I am a very quite, shy and socially awkward teen. I lack self confidence and often find myself shying away from activities and refusing to get involved. For me this is something I want to change. I know a four week course will not fully solve the problem, but I am hoping that it might help. My goal is to gain enough confidence to be able to go up and speak to people and not feel so anxious about social events.

Reason 2: CV

Hopefully a National Citizens Service qualification will look good on my CV. For me it’s just that extra bonus, an extra something to add more substance to my CV. I never did Duke of Edinburgh, so I am really looking for an extra qualification to add to my CV aside from GCSE’S. Not only this NCS is recognised by UCAS, although you do not get any points for it. However it still may help me stand out against other university applicants.

Reason 3: Boredom

This may sound a little sad, but really I don’t do much with my life. We rarely go on holiday, so I spend most of my time at home being bored. The opportunity to go away and have some fun with people my own age sounds quite appealing. In the future I can look back upon this experience as I probably will never forget it. I guess it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that I don’t want to miss, as I might regret it if I don’t go.