The NCS National Youth Board (NYB) took place on Wednesday 1 July in Nottingham. The event was an opportunity for 20 NCS graduates/Leaders to get together, each representing their region, as well as 6 NCS associate members. It’s a privilege to be selected to be a part of the NYB. It’s something which the NCS graduates do not take for granted and something we work hard to stay on.
The NYB began in 2013/14 and has developed with new NCS Leaders for 2014/15. Typically, the event features sessions from NCS staff, outside organisations as well as updates about our regions. Our last meeting in Nottingham was packed with sessions that would allow us to develop NCS and make it better for graduates as well as new upcoming participants. So, what do graduates and Leaders like about the NYB?
“I like NYB because I feel like my input is actually changing the programme for the better,” said graduate Lauren Cruddas. “I feel like any problems can addressed directly.
“It also means that anything new to the programme is perceived [in the same way] it would be by its target audience. It’s also just quite fun to go to all the meetings with my friends/NCS family, to be addressed by people with respect, like our opinions are valued.”
Similarly, Ashish Ramuni relayed why he loves being on the NYB, saying: “What I love… is the level of importance that the Trust places on your input and the responsibility that comes with it. Owing to our place on the board, we must communicate with our regional youth boards, drawing their opinions either as issues to raise or feedback to give. Simultaneously, we must act as messengers to convey what we know to be true, straight from the horses' mouths.”
The NYB also features associate mentors who have been on the board the year before, including Mary Senganda, who said: “Being an associate mentor is both challenging and rewarding. You develop a range of skills such as communication, leadership and responsibility. These are useful for job prospects and other aspects in life.”
In Nottingham, the Chair (Vernon Bakare) and Communications (Jade Wardle) held a session about the Opportunity Hub and how it could be developed and improved to give graduates good quality opportunities for employment, life experiences and social action. Graduates came up with ideas on how opportunities should be shown regionally or nationally, and also how they should access their opportunities. We also had 60-second regional updates about what has been going on, and how our regional youth boards are going. One regional representative said: “It is a really good way to recap everything that is happening in each person’s region. I also think it’s a great session because it can give a person ideas and inspiration to take back to their region.”
We were joined for lunch by two special guests - the Lord Mayor of Nottingham Cllr Jackie Morries and the Sherrif of Nottingham, Cllr Moammed Saghir. They discussed with us their thoughts on the importance of programmes like NCS in supporting young people into social action in their communities.
We also had the pleasure of being accompanied by the NCS Senior Leadership Team. This allowed the representatives to ask questions and receive feedback from the senior team about any queries or worries they have about the programme. In sparking wordplay, Ashish said: “Our miscellaneous wonderings ranged from questions that delved into the motives that lead to the inception of the programme to questions that addressed the logistics of NCS Live, but each was dealt with by the SLT with equal care and respect and they answered our questions fully. The session proved to be immensely useful to us, not only allowing us a forum to ask our burning questions, but also giving us an insight into the philosophy of the trust and the programme we all know and love.”
Overall, each NYB highlights how NCS can be improved, and how we as graduates can involve others in these improvements, helping to increase the numbers of participants to reach our goal of 1 million NCSers by 2020. It not only allows us to improve the programme for new participants, but also to ensure the graduates who have already done NCS can carry on benefiting from the programme, helping them to embrace opportunities, allowing them to accumulate skills for employment, as well as new life experiences and social action projects in their communities.
By Jade Wardle (NCS National Youth Board 2014/15, Communications Team)