In 2017, Kirklees Council and the National Citizen Service (NCS) Trust entered into an initial 12-month partnership. They developed a partnership agreement, working to an action plan which would pilot joint ways of working, building on the work that NCS was already doing in Kirklees.
In 2017, Kirklees Council and the National Citizen Service (NCS) Trust entered into an initial 12-month partnership. They developed a partnership agreement, working to an action plan which would pilot joint ways of working, building on the work that NCS was already doing in Kirklees. The partnership was also focused on specific local challenges around community cohesion, extremism and below average educational outcomes and progression for some young people.
Specific ambitions included:
- Young people take part in activities that have a direct link to issues affecting communities in Kirklees and support democratic engagement
- The NCS programme is integrated into the Council and partners’ key strategies (e.g. Community Cohesion, Early Intervention and Prevention, Economic Resilience), and supports the delivery of shared outcomes
- The NCS programme in Kirklees maximises the positive contributions, skills and experience of young people through their participation and supports them to continue to contribute positively to the district after their NCS completion
The Council put in place a lead communications officer to develop a communications plan of sustained social media activity, direct mail and local case studies. This helped increase NCS marketing and raise awareness of the benefits of NCS, boosting take-up of more young people from across Kirklees. They also produced an internal staff/partner guide to NCS to take colleagues through the various elements of the programme and how they could get involved, e.g. promotion, referrals, sign up, hosting a social action project, etc.
The Council also brought in strategic champions; a Cabinet Member Champion, a Head of Service and Partnership Coordinator meant the pilot is firmly positioned in the Council’s core business. Kirklees received a grant for the pilot which supported resources, activities and communications products. The leadership and co-ordination elements were part of the Head of Service’s and supporting Officer’s role to pick up the delivery/co-ordination/partnership activities.
“NCS can increase the confidence and aspirations of young people providing a much-needed boost in self-esteem as they prepare for adulthood. NCS also introduces young people to social action and the value of supporting charitable and community causes. These positive impacts are what will make Kirklees an even better place to live, learn, work and play.” Councillor Masood Ahmed, Cabinet Member – Community Cohesion, Kirklees Council
Supporting young people
The Council engaged a number of teams – both internal and partners – to specifically target disadvantaged groups of young people. A successfully targeted group was the NEXUS Group – this was an alternative provision for young people not engaged in mainstream school environments. NCS providers now regularly visit the provision to encourage early signup and identify barriers to participation early on, increasing the chance of support successfully enabling the young person to go on and remain on the programme.
The Council arranged for NCS providers to engage in local partnerships and the Kirklees Volunteering Network. This has included NCS presentations to a wide community audience with third sector groups and partner organisations to encourage more involvement, e.g. referrals, workshop offers and local social action projects. NCS, the council and its partners worked together to develop programmes that were responsive to the needs of the local area:
- Democracy and Active Citizenship workshops, including links to national and local decision making, contacting their MPs and Ward Councillors, young people using their voice and influence to shape their communities, and raising and championing issues that matter to them
- Prevent workshop and conflict resolution E.g. gangs/postcode wars, social media awareness, cultural diversity, respect and attitudes. This was taken up by Leeds United
- Masterclass run by the Co-op Trust Research, public speaking, marketing/branding and entrepreneurial skills. This was also taken up by Leeds United.
- Kirklees Volunteering Workshop to promote benefits of young people volunteering post NCS
- Huddersfield University are now looking to offer providers a day of social and political learning activities on campus
“Our project works with Year 11 students across Kirklees who are disengaged with their current educational route. For the last 12 months, we have worked in partnership with NCS. They have run group work sessions with our young people to provide information about NCS and to give them a taster of what may be involved if they participated in the programme.
The sessions with NCS have been very valuable for our students. The young people have thoroughly enjoyed the inventive and creative activities used and, even within a relatively short session time, our young people have been challenged and enabled to exceed their expectations of what they can achieve.” Jamie, Nexus in-school.
- Participation increase by 23 per cent from 2017 to 2019 including 6 per cent more children and young people who access Free School Meals
- Programme now has input from key local stakeholders to ensure a locally driven approach
Top tips for councils looking to get involved in the NCS:
- Implement a senior strategic officer to lead the partnership
- Bring NCS together with the wider VCFS network to share good practice and local knowledge
- Develop targeted marketing schemes to attract children and young people
- Identify a Councillor who can pioneer the programme
- Get to know your NCS provider(s)
- Establish local priorities with your NCS provider
- Connect your NCS provider with local stakeholders
- Promote NCS to all young people
- Include NCS in your local strategies
Cheryl Reid, Active Citizens and Places Officer