Picture the scene: It’s June, you’re 16 years old and you’ve got the whole summer ahead of you with the sound of freedom calling.
It happened to us all once. And every year youngsters are experiencing the overwhelming feeling of freedom as their future lies ahead of them.
So what would you do with all that time ahead of you?
Nowadays, many young people are taking part in a programme working in their local community and building up their skills for their future.
The National Citizen Service (NCS) is the government’s flagship programme to inspire young people to engage in their local community.
Locally, the programme is run by Pompey in the Community, an independent charitable trust affiliated to Portsmouth Football Club.
It is based at the Pompey Study Centre in Anson Road, next to Fratton Park.
The programme gives youngsters aged 16 and 17 the opportunity to get some experience to put on their CV which can give them a big boost when it comes to applying for university and jobs.
The four-week programme includes a residential week at an outdoor activity centre where they do team building activities such as rock climbing.
They have another residential week within the local community based at the University of Portsmouth.
This gives young people an insight into life at university.
They then have two weeks working on a self-designed project involved with a local organisation or charity that they want to help.
James Shannon, NCS co-ordinator at Pompey in the Community, says it’s hugely beneficial for all youngsters to get involved.
‘I like the idea because it gives them the whole CV enhancement,’ he says.
‘It makes them more pro-active and it’s giving the good name back to young people.
‘This programme gives them the chance to really engage with their community whether that be through sport, art, drama or charity work.
‘It’s very much led by the younger person.
‘The work experience and the learning experience is phenomenal for them to put on their CV.
‘It’s given them the platform to continue that.
‘It gives them the skills and the mindset to continue that off their own back.’
Last year, some of the students went and worked with the Salvation Army, helping to prepare food parcels for people who were desperately in need.
James says getting involved in the project can change a person and help them to mature into an adult.
‘It changes their mindset to see that volunteering and work experience is a good thing,’ he adds.
‘It’s something that they pro-actively do because they know it’s great for their CV when it comes to job applications and university applications.
‘From my experience, a lot of them love it which is why they are coming back to volunteer as ambassadors.
‘They want to get involved in volunteering.
‘If there are organisations out there that are crying out for young people and they want to approach us, they can.
‘They all come out a lot more mature because of the amount of independence involved.’
He added: ‘Mum and dad are not around so they have got to fend for themselves.’
The NCS is recognised by UCAS and can contribute to any university application.
It also covers the Duke of Edinburgh award criteria so the four-week programme can be used as evidence in the students’ portfolios.
Linvoy Primus recently became an ambassador for the project through his charity Faith and Football.
‘It’s so good because it gives an opportunity to experience something that wouldn’t necessarily be in their eyeline at that sort of age,’ he says.
‘It’s challenging because you are going to meet different people from all sorts of backgrounds. It’s a great social thing.’
He adds that it will benefit the children in the long term.
‘It gives them a different perspective on life,’ he says.
‘We’ve known over the years from sending children out to India that at 14 or 15 years old it shapes their thinking of what they want to do with their lives in terms of helping people.
‘It’s going to work on so many different levels.
‘At the end of it there are going to be some real friendships made.
‘ It’s shaping their lives for the future.’
Clare Martin, head of community projects at Pompey in the Community, adds: ‘The idea is that the kids find out a bit more about the community and they give something back to the community by working with their peers.
‘It opens their eyes about the city.
‘ It gets them to meet young people and others who they would never have met before.
‘It opens their eyes to what’s on their doorstep.’
BACK AGAIN FOR MORE
Last year, some of the students enjoyed it so much that they have volunteered to return again this year and work as ambassadors for the project.
April Leigh, 16, from Sheffield Road in Fratton, says: ‘It was another thing to do during the summer instead of staying at home and not doing much.
‘It was a good experience because I know what people go through.
‘I felt that we helped someone just by making food parcels.
‘It helped create new bonds with people you never thought you would become friends with.
‘It’s good to put on your CV as well because people see that you have done different things.
‘I enjoyed it so much and I want other people to have as much fun as I did.
‘It’s good to give back. It definitely gives you more confidence and it pushes you to work that little bit harder.’
George Duff, 17, from Hayling Avenue in Copnor, adds: ‘I wanted to make a change to the community.
‘I thought it was good fun and I would recommend it to all.
‘I had a different view of the community. I took it for granted before but now you get a warm feeling inside.
‘I want to give others the opportunity that I had.’
Jimmy Matthews, 16, from Bonchurch Road in Milton, adds: ‘I wanted to get to know more people and be more confident in myself and have a good experience with everyone.
‘It teaches people to give something back. It’s just good to get involved.
‘I wanted to give something back, make new friends and have a good time.’
WHEN IT’S ON
The programme will run in two sessions this summer. The first one will run from July 8 until August 2.
The second starts on August 5 and runs through until August 30. Students can sign up for either one.
An open evening will be taking place at the Pompey Study Centre tomorrow from 5pm until 8pm, where youngsters can find out more. Limited places are available for this year’s sessions.
Anyone who signs up tomorrow will pay £35 and if they complete all four weeks they get £25 back.
If young people sign up tomorrow night, they will receive two tickets to Monday’s Easter bank holiday game against Tranmere.
They will also be entered into a free prize draw to win an iPad mini.
Pompey in the Community is also looking for any charities, organisations or community groups which might want to get involved.
Visit pompeystudycentre.org.uk or call (023) 9272 8899.