Spring Wave 2015

As another snowy January passes, February brings a little ball of community warmth. A new group of young, eager people are ready to start their National Citizen Service experience here at Huddersfield Community Trust. When a nervous and slightly awkward group meet for the first time they have differing opinions on what to expect from the next few weeks.

“I’m expecting to go away and have fun, I want to make new friends and be pushed outside my comfort zone.” – Sophie Higgins, NCS Participant

“I don’t have many expectations for the programme, I’m hoping to meet new people and develop my communication skills as I don’t have much confidence in this area.” – Sara Shenolikar, NCS Participant

“A friend from last year’s programme told me I should do it as it’s fun and we’d both like to go on to do ICS (international citizen service) in the future. I have a few vague ideas about what to expect from the home residential but the rest will be a surprise.” – Francesca Merritt, NCS Participant

NCS coordinator Katy Stockdale noticed an initial restraint from the group.

“They began in their safety net of friendship groups and were very reluctant to share things as a team.”- Katy Stockdale, NCS Coordinator

This wasn’t to last for long. The young people were taken away for a weekend at Condover outdoor activity centre. On arrival they were thrown into a selection of activities designed to test their greatest fears. The high ropes course saw the team climb up to dizzying heights. They leapt into the great unknown on the trapeze and climbed an army style obstacle course in the gladiator challenge.

Team Leader Jonny Morgan was impressed by the level of support and encouragement shown by the team.

“Every single person pushed themselves to their own limits and that’s all I could ever ask for. What may seem like a small achievement to one experienced ‘out doorsy’ type may be a massive achievement for someone trying these things for the first time. That’s what really impressed me about this team. They fully recognised the achievements of each individual no matter how big or small.”- Jonny Morgan, NCS Team Leader

The teams’ practical problem solving abilities were next to be tested. Working together as one they made their way through a selection of make believe scenarios. Transporting a bomb across an obstacle filled landscape proved no problem for the team. Their exceptional use of communication helped guide them to safety.  Building a raft to sail away from flesh eating piranhas was a more challenging task. The team’s creativity and persistence came good in the end as they made it home and dry despite the worsening weather. The demanding nature of the activities during phase one proved a catalyst, turning strangers into a close knit group of friends. The trust between the team flourished as they blindly lead each other through water, quicksand and lots of mud on the night line.

“I started talking to people I wouldn’t normally associate with and I didn’t feel nervous when approaching them. I knew we were all a team and I could get along well with everyone, no matter how different they were from myself” – Emily Silvestre, NCS Participant

In Phase two the young people were given the opportunity to develop their knowledge of media & marketing.  Huddersfield Community Trust media & marketing executive John Whitehead shared his expertise before the youngsters were put to the test in the real world. Set against each other in four separate teams they had to create industry standard flyers for a local community project named BECside. A representative from the project then selected a favourite from the four flyers which is set to be distributed locally.

 “All four of the leaflets were of exceptional quality, I’m absolutely blow away. The winning one created by Sara, Becky and Sophie just has that special something and I can’t wait to start distributing it” – Sandra Sellars, BECside representative

In another phase two workshop Next Champions of Success worked with Helen & Sophie from fairandfunky. The activity got them thinking about environmental preservation. Using recycled materials they had to develop an idea that would change the world. Their creativity showed no boundaries with a super robot penguin named Pecko, a turtle friendly bag (TFB) and two installations combatting deforestation all being created in just an afternoon. The young people will use their newly developed skills and confidence to complete a social action project in their own time. It’s apparent from their parting comments that the programme has deeply affected the young people.

“The programme has definitely changed me, I feel more comfortable speaking to new people and I now know I can conquer my fears if I put my mind to it” – Sophie Higgins, NCS Participant

“NCS has motivated me to get more involved in my local community in an effort to gain skills and experience that will help me get into university” – Sara Shenolikar, NCS Participant

One of the teams named ‘Next Champions of Success’ also took the opportunity to send a message to young people considering taking part in NCS in future.

“Sign Up. Just do it. I can guarantee you will learn important skills that you won’t have learnt at school. It is an amazing opportunity to improve and exceed your own expectations of yourself.” – Emily Silvestre, NCS Participant

“Jump at the change and hold on to it for dear life. It is a once in a life time opportunity and it worth every second of it.” – Sophie Higgins, NCS Participant

NCS Coordinator Katy Stockdale summed up her experience with the group by saying;

“I am so proud of this group of young they have been an absolute delight to manage from watching their creations in fair and funky’s workshop to pitching their ideas to the panel of dragons. There behaviour has been impeccable, I have been able to trust them and they have achieved above and beyond my expectations which gives me great pleasure to be in the role I am in”- Katy Stockdale, NCS Coordinator

The young people held a Take Me Out style charity fundraiser as their social action project on the 7th March 2015. The event raised money for Kirkwood Hospice. Not only did the YP be performing a live version of Take Me Out but there will be an opportunity for all guests to win some fantastic prizes.