Young people from across Cumbria and Lancashire joined forces last month to celebrate the National Citizen Service (NCS) Social Action Day, supported by Santander.
On and around Saturday 17 March, over 65 NCS graduates conducted research, raised awareness and took to the streets to support local organisations and charities by raising money and awareness.
This year, there were two common themes across the region, raising awareness about mental health and supporting food banks and local organisations who provide families and young people with food, clothing and temporary accommodation in times of need.
To kickstart the activities, the NW3 Regional Youth Board produced a video called 'Can you hear me?'
Aimed at reducing the stigma around mental and physical disabilities, the Grads will continue to share the video as part of an on-going campaign by the group. To date the video was viewed 3900 times, and Amanda Richardson CEO of Action Cerebral Palsy described it as "powerful, honest and heart felt".
In West Cumbria and Preston, Graduates working with Inspira and our local delivery partner The Challenge collected clothes in the weeks leading up to Action Day. In Preston the team also braved the wind and snow, setting up a stall in the local Aldi store to highlight how many young people find themselves on the streets, while also collecting tinned food for the Lancashire food bank charity Emmaus, they also handed out pasties to homeless people over lunch time.
Inspired by personal experiences, NCS Graduates in North Cumbria focused their project on the effects of bullying on mental health, educating those within their communities on this topical, yet sensitive subject. The young people carried out a survey which was put together in collaboration with Spiral (a new Anti-Bullying Charity in Carlisle) to understand the support available and if people know how to access it. The results will be collated and processed during the next NCS Graduate Youth Board meeting.
In Barrow, the team focused on youth homelessness, while the NCS Graduates in Blackburn working with our local delivery partner SLYNCS, helped to clean up their local canal by painting, picking litter and tidying up the sides of the grass along a stretch of their canal walk way. Fylde Coast YMCA NCS Graduates are planning a festival in May to support a charity organisation set up in memory of their friend who completed NCS and unfortunately struggled with his mental health.
Over £1100 was raised across NW3 for seven different charities.
Nicola Hullock, NCS graduate engagement officer at Inspira, spoke out in praise of the local graduates’ work: “I am incredibly proud of what our NCS graduates have achieved over the last year. Action Day highlighted the issues that young people think are most important to them and their area, it truly is humbling to work with such an inspirational bunch of young people”.
More than 2.3 million hours have been dedicated to social action. Over the past year, 4221 graduates of NCS – the country’s flagship youth empowerment programme – have been renovating community areas, raising money and awareness for local and national charities. NCS Social Action Day is a celebration of the amazing difference these young people make to their local community, with the hope of inspiring others to do the same.