For thousands of young people, NCS is a life-changing experience – a chance to grow as a person, embrace new opportunities and take the bull by the metaphorical horns. With this in mind, we caught up with five NCS graduates to find out what made their NCS experience so memorable, and how they changed as a person. Roll the tape…
Q. What were you like prior to NCS? Have others noticed a positive change since you took part?
Charlie Cooke: I was honestly an incredibly anxious and introverted person. Multiple members of my family have commented on how I have changed since taking part in NCS. It's made me a happier, more confident person and helped me become an active citizen.
Hannah McLellan: I used to say "I can't do this" a lot, but now I say ‘yes’ to everything regardless of whether it’s out of my comfort zone.
Hannah Martinez: Prior to NCS, I felt as though I couldn't get along with many people and now I feel as if I can approach anyone. The friendships I've made on NCS are definitely friendships for life!
Siobhan Shields: I was quite reserved – not shy – but relied on other people to get things done. Now I have more confidence and have found my voice.
Q. Have you done any further volunteering since NCS? What kind of opportunities have you enjoyed?
Hannah McLellan: Doing NCS helped me gain contacts at Everton FC and with a variety of different companies, allowing me to get experience. As a result of all the volunteering I’ve been doing over the past two years since NCS, Everton awarded me with a ‘Blue Hero’ award, and (footballer) Romelu Lukaku surprised me with it whilst I was dining in the Hilton Hotel!
Hannah Martinez: I am a team leader in the management team for a charity event called Big Stop Day 2016 – a concert to raise awareness for girls’ educational rights – and I'm so excited to be a part of it and to make it happen!
Siobhan Shields: I now volunteer at a local community toddler group once a week and I’m going for a meeting with my MP very soon to organise something big…
Q. What was the experience like filming the NCS TV campaign ad?
Ash Parker: It was an unbelievable experience where we managed to get an inside look at what really goes on in show business.
Hannah McLellan: Amazing! It was an experience that I will never forget and I'm very honoured to have been a part of it! Not only has it allowed me to promote something which I’m very passionate about, but I also got to meet Emily Canham, Ali-A and Suli Breaks, who I have been watching for many years now!
I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see what happens behind the scenes of filming an advert, and all the hard work that goes into it. I have to say, I did enjoy having my makeup done like a star! I’m so pleased with how well the campaign is going and I can't wait to see more people doing NCS this summer.
Hannah Martinez: It has definitely been one of my proudest achievements.
Charlie Cook: It was almost indescribable. An overwhelming and extraordinary thing to have been a part of.
Q. And finally, what would be the theme song to your NCS experience?
Ash Parker: 'Our Song' by Elton John. A perfectly fitting song, which describes the NCS vibe of unity and compassion whilst also being a touching, light-hearted tune that everyone knows the words to. This really sums up what NCS is about, the fact that anyone of any background is welcome and should feel like a part of something.
Siobhan Shields: 'Making Bacon Pancakes' from that weird vine. You couldn't go anywhere on the campsite without hearing it. (Editor’s note: That does sound weird!)
Hannah McLellan: ‘Where is The Love’ by Black Eyed Peas. It was a song that allowed us all to bond together whilst having wrap/shouting battles.
Hannah Martinez: The Friends theme song, ‘I’ll Be There for You’, as NCS really is there for you!