FRESH from being crowned Community Club of the Year, Pompey are encouraging young people from across the city to sign up to their National Citizenship Service (NCS) initiative.
Between June and September, 15 to 17-year-olds have the opportunity to meet new people, take part in adventure activities and make a difference to their community.
NCS engagement co-ordinator Connor Turner said: ‘It’s a four-week summer programme which helps to bridge the gap between school and college. It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people to develop new skills and meet new people. We started six years ago with 15 youngsters and last year we had more than 500 participants.’
Pompey in the Community’s NCS programme is divided into three phases with youngsters taking part in a range of outdoor activities and community initiatives while developing vital life skills.
Pompey in the Community chief executive Clare Martin added: ‘This is a life-changing opportunity for young people. Many parents have mentioned to me about how it has transformed their child. The course really opens up their eyes to people from different backgrounds. We have a real mix of children from private schools, looked-after children and those from areas of high levels of social deprivation.’
The first phase of the scheme includes a residential adventure programme at the Land and Wave centre in Swanage followed by a week of life skills development at Fort Purbrook.
‘During the adventure phase students take part in activities such as coasteering, paddleboarding and kayaking,’ said Connor. ‘Many of the youngsters are often very shy and reserved on that first morning and this really helps to develop their confidence and relationships with other people in the group. During the second phase the students learn to deal with budgets, first aid skills and how to prepare and cook food. This will involve producing a three-course meal for a local community group.’
The programme culminates with a community project in which students lead an initiative to support local organisations such as care homes, community centres and charities.
‘The social action component and giving something back to the community is the whole point of NCS,’ said Connor.
‘In the past we have had projects such as sleeping rough to raise money for the homeless, decorating care homes, creating sensory gardens for special education schools and raising money for the RNLI,’ added Clare.
The football club plays an important role in supporting the programme.
Connor said: ‘Portsmouth is a massive football city and so the support of the club is fantastic for the programme. The players will often come down to help us out. We have a Dragons’ Den-style event in which groups have to bid for money for their various social action initiatives. The players will often help us out by volunteering to be dragons for the day.’
Clare added: ‘Christian Burgess is a trustee of the charity and has already put himself forward to be involved in the summer.’
For Connor and Clare, the greatest satisfaction is seeing how teenagers develop over the four week programme.
‘On that first Monday many of the youngsters lack confidence,’ said Connor. ‘By the end of the programme they are like different people. They have gained experience in meeting new people, presenting to groups and dealing with different challenges. These are the sort of skills colleges and universities are now looking for – not just academic attainment. Taking part in NCS is great to put on your CV.’
The 2019 programme will see six different groups of students taking part with places for more than 600 youngsters. Anyone who would like to get involved can contact Pompey in the Community on (023) 9272 8899.