Pisaboy: Great speech at conference Paul. I remember you saying you were in the Paras- My favourite part of the idea is the military service bit. Do you think that could be a bigger element than currently proposed without it putting strain on our forces?
Every sector (including the military) has something to offer and something to gain from NCS. The military’s contribution will be focused in the ‘challenge’ section of the programme where they have a great deal of expertise. In this way NCS will not overstretch the military and it will become one of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of service life. It is also recognized however that ex-service personnel have an enormous amount to offer throughout the NCS programme.
Baskerville: Would you agree that a National Citizenship Service should not be organised centrally, but locally? My preference would be to base it on counties, but I'd like to hear your views. Also, what should be the public/private/charitable mix and how would you ensure it was achieved?
You have correctly identified some of the key questions for the implementation of NCS. We have set up an accreditation working group lead by Joe Gordon of PricewaterhouseCoopers to ensure effective local delivery and the successful businessman Kim Taylor Smith is leading a working group which will make recommendations on logistical systems.
Anthony Broderick: A lot of schools seem to be keen on cutting down their summer holidays and spreading the holiday time throughout the rest of the year. Wouldn't that be a fly in the ointment for this? I'd love to see this as a compulsory gap year that gave people life experience (and I agree that military training should be a big part), but I suppose you ruled that out for being too radical?
As the programme becomes embedded, schools, business, the voluntary sector, the military and everyone will recognize the hugely positive impact it will be having on British life. They will get behind the collective effort and play their part in its delivery. NCS does have some key elements but beyond them the programme is meant to be flexible and as such it will adaptable to local need and to any changes in the school term.
Letters from a Tory: Why would
anyone spend an entire summer at that age not earning any money for
themselves? Surely the need to save money is more pressing than ever.
Research conducted by the Princes Trust has clearly identified that employers are looking for young people who build their social skills. We are also exploring many other incentives including, grants, charitable donations, an offer of adult status for participants and the facility to registration with friends. We will also enlist the participant from year one to explain the benefits of the programme to the next years intake.
Matt Wright: What do you think of these suggestions:
- Increase the driving age limit by 2 years and then make a condition of getting a driving license at current age limit (ie early), that you should have completed the National Citizen Service.
- Leave the proposal as it is and have entirely optional partcipation. then introduce another entirely seperate and parallel service, which is compulsory for youngsters who are getting into repeat offending. This could be a boot camp run by ex-servicemen. Those youngsters that did well in this could be offered a career in the army, navy or air force. My point here is that this is the group of youngsters we actually do need to deal with.
Your first idea is along the same lines as something we are exploring ‘Early Adult Status’. Current age related legislation sends a very mixed message about adulthood to young people. NCS may allow us to rationalise age legislation and send a clearer message to young people. If you behave like an adult, you will be treated like one.
Your second idea has been tried both here and in America with varying results. My experience is that young people respond very positively to adults who are firm, fair and show that they care. Clearly young people in the penal system need to have this constructive contact with adults.
Dave Bartlett: How is does this 'national citizen service' idea differ from the Duke of Edinburgh award?
NCS starts with a week long personal development programme which explores adulthood, it has a key aim of social mix and it takes place over an intensive six week period. There are also many similarities however, community involvement, challenge and team work for example. NCS has benefited from the experience of many youth organisation including the Duke of Edinburgh award and they are one of our special advisors as we move forward.
Ay Up: I know you're not a Tory but what do you think it would take for the Tories to make a comeback in Liverpool? Do any of your mates tease you about being associated with the Tories?
I don’t belong to any political party, I support quality policies and leadership. I would like to say that having had the chance to work with David Cameron I have been extremely impressed by his courage, integrity and vision and his willingness to listen to people like myself who have dedicated there life to a particular issue.
As for Liverpool! It was Henry Ford who said “If you think you are going to win or you think you are going to lose, you’re right”. It is not Labour territory! They are just the current custodians. The comeback starts internally with belief, focus, planning and determination.
Tim Benbow: Did your experience of youth work in LIverpool lead to any conclusions about how effective projects in the third sector are compared to the social services? Social services seem to me to be primarily focused on themselves and those who run private or Church projects often work much harder and without as much bureaucracy.
Organisations from whatever sector work best when they have the trust/accountability balance right. We need to find people and organisations that are doing things well, give them some resources and as far as possible stay out of their way.
- I am a member of an educational charity, We have many Teenage members. At the age of 13, they start training, so that at the age of 16 they can become full active members. To lose them for 6 weeks during their first active summer would cause us major problems. How could groups like this educational charity be accommodated in your system?
- The remark in the report which states “Those who are overly academic will discover there’s more to life” is very disparaging of this group. why? Also they would not find the challenge interesting (Too physical, sports, three peaks, etc). How do you bring them on board, (coercion with this group would not work)?
- My experiences with teams and especially team leaders has resulted in me having very little respect for leaders (Be it managers, captains, etc) nor do I wish to lead a team. What good would this do the some one with my experience?
- If we don’t create a programme which utilizes smaller youth organisations we will have failed. We need them. We will achieve this through a registering of delivery organisations.
- If ‘variety is the spice of life’ those who are overly academic are in danger of missing out big time. This is not disparaging, it is an opportunity to explore new experiences. We are exploring physical and none physical challenges so that the programme will engage and take everyone out of their comfort zone. This will need participants to offer and receive the support of fellow participants and that will produce life long memories.
- People will come to the programme with a wide range of experiences. The programme will offer new, positive and supporting experiences to all participants.
Thank you all for your questions, NCS will not just benefit young people it is an opportunity to galvanize our country behind a world class youth programme, a rights of passage programme for a modern society. It is ambitious and there is much work to be done but it has been designed by experience and I believe it will be the greatest legacy from our generation to those of the future.