NCS Boosts Political Awareness of Kent Teens

20th July 2018

A panel of Kent community and political experts joined a group of local young people taking part in National Citizen Service (NCS) for a YouthQuake event on Tuesday 17th July. The event was designed to allow the teens pose their questions to the panel, and discuss with them the political and community issues that matter to them most.

Attended by more than 180 young people, the event was held at the University of Kent, with panel members including Dr Iain MacKenzie, senior lecturer in politics at the University of Kent, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury, the Mayor of Ramsgate, and councillors from across the Ashford, Canterbury, Thanet and Dover areas including Canterbury City councillor Ben Fitter-Harding, Cllr Graham Galpin, councillor for Ashford Stour, and Deputy Chairman for Membership at North Thanet Conservatives, George Kup.

Delivered in south and east Kent by CXK, NCS is an open-to-all unifying experience shared by teens from different backgrounds which helps them become better individuals, and in turn better citizens.

Skills that can’t be learned in the classroom

NCS participants were in their second week of the programme where the young people live away from home in university-style accommodation whilst learning a range of new skills – from budgeting and cooking through to African drumming – while also exploring a range of political and local community issues. The young people, who had been exploring the issues facing their local communities as well as broader political topics, approached the panel with questions about housing prices and plans for the use of abandoned properties in their local areas. They went on to discuss Brexit negotiations, and even their thoughts on President Trump’s visit to the UK.

“The world isn’t black and white”

Panellist Councillor Ben Fitter-Harding learned first-hand how NCS – the fastest growing youth movement in our country for a century – is helping to develop participants’ political and community engagement. Ben said: It was a tremendous honour to sit in front of 180 engaged, passionate 15-17 year olds, answering a broad spectrum of questions covering everything from housing to mental health. If they came away with a hunger to ask more questions of their leaders in society, and demand better answers, then I feel it was a very valuable session.

“Sometimes once we get involved in ‘politics’, it’s easy to get side-tracked by the complexities and constraints that make things the way they are. What we see as improvement, progress, can seem of little consolation to others, and for the young people involved in YouthQuake and their relatively fresh eyes it’s clear that they want to see change. At the same time, it was a great opportunity to explain to them that the world isn’t black and white, and that in the struggle for social progression and fairness it’s just as important to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.”

A flagship government initiative

NCS is a flagship government initiative that provides young people aged 15-17 with the chance to take on new challenges, experience exciting activities, make long-lasting friendships and develop vital skills that will support them later in life. It was launched to tackle three core issues of importance to society: social cohesion, social mobility and social engagement.

Over 400,000 young people have completed the NCS programme to date, giving up an incredible 11.7 million hours to social action projects since NCS started.

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