National Citizen Service - an opportunity for the heritage sector?

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The National Citizen Service is the Government’s flagship initiative to engage 15-17 year olds in social action for life:

In the six years since its foundation the NCS programme has grown the number of participants and the range of delivery partners. This year they have an ambition to reach 100,000 young people and by 2020 over one million. In this period of growth they are interested in hearing from organisations from the heritage sector with bright ideas and a trusted track record of delivering high quality experiences for young people.

There may be opportunities this year to get involved in new pilot work, to pitch to deliver one or more weeks of the four week programme (, and perhaps to bring the benefit of young people’s action to your organisation and partners.

We at HLF, alongside other DCMS Arms-Length Bodies, have been asked to attend a workshop to think about ways the heritage sector might contribute to, and benefit from, NCS in the short and longer term.

Could the activity week be focussed on an archaeology dig rather than be exclusively out and bound-focused? Could the Discover week, building leadership skills, be delivered using your residential facility? Could you offer a rich social action project, giving young people the opportunity to lead an initiative and make a difference for your site or campaign?

Let us know what you think. If you’re already involved in delivering NCS it would be good to hear about your experience here.

View Jo Reilly's profile Jo Reilly Apr 24 2017 - 1:32pm
  1. Hi Jo,

    My name is Rose, I am part of the learning team at the Museum of Brands.

    The Museum has not been part of NCS before, but I can see how our learning programme could offer opportunities for the students’ Discover phase. We have a series of interactive workshops for students which develop branding, marketing and advertising skills inspired by our collection of 150 years of consumer culture. We are also running Summer Innovation Labs – day long courses which end with enterprise presentations and feedback sessions with the Museum team and peers.

    As a small independent Museum and registered charity we are currently working on widening our engagement with young people – and have some great workshops to offer development of life skills from advertising, working in creative teams and presenting to a panel of judges. The opportunities we could offer range from 1 hour long workshop costing £120, to an all-day branding challenge for £45 per student – it would be great to hear how we could get involved.


  2. View Rose Hughes's profile Rose Hughes
    Offline | Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
  3. Hi Jo,

    I am an independent heritage education consultant currently working with Knebworth House in Hertfordshire.  We are planning the restoration of a Victorian watchman's tower with the strong desire to get young people in the local community involved in the project.

    I have recently spoken with the NCS co-ordinator at Hertfordshire County Council about becoming a NCS partner through this project and giving young people the opportunity for a week's volunteering at Knebworth.  Herts CC are very keen for Knebworth to get involved with the programme and say that they are always on the lookout for new partners.  It strikes me that Hertfordshire is rich in opportunities for young people to volunteer in heritage and museum settings.

    Our project might involve participants helping to run informal family learning sessions, promoting the work of Knebworth House Education & Preservation Trust and speaking to visitors.  There might also be the possibility - depending on timing - for learning about the elements of the actual building restoration process.  I would be very interested to hear about the type of activities participants have taken part in at heritage sites that are already NCS partners.

  4. View Hannah-Marie Brownlow's profile Hannah-Marie Br...
    Offline | Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
  5. Hi Jo

    I am a heritage consultant specialising in community development for heritage organisations and heritage engagement with community groups. 

    I am really interested in the NCS and am currently looking into it for a couple of the organisations I work with.  At the moment I am in the early stages of working how it would work, but I have a park that has been taken over by the local community and already has strong links to the local schools.  I am working with them to develop a Round 2 Activity plan for a large HLF Heritage Grant.

    I am therefore seeing the NCS as a really interesting way of supporting the work that the park is currently undertaking but also ensuring that young people in the town understand that they can have a stake in the park and towns future. This could be through the current NCS model of fundraising or it could be by helping with the development of the park, helping with the archaeology or helping with marketing the park to wider audiences through social media.  I am currently in the consultation stage with both the client and the local community, so I will keep you informed about how this develops.

  6. View Claire Adler's profile Claire Adler
    Offline | Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
  7. Thanks everyone. Great to have these ideas - please keep them coming. First meeting with the Trust on 12 May. J

  8. View Jo Reilly's profile Jo Reilly
    Offline | Last seen: 6 days 15 hours ago
  9. Be good to have more info from heritage organisations about that they would need to enable them to participate in the NCS fully - particulary the built and natural heritage sectors.

    I think NCS is an opportunity to begin a lifelong engagement with heritage but it needs to be meaningful and involve young people actively in decision making, interpreting and looking after heritage. However, this is new work for many organisations and we need to understand how we, as a public body and the HLF as a funder can help.

    I think that working with young people via the NCS is an opportunity to develop knowledge and understanding about the importance and value of heritage to a really wide range of people and hopefully build a sense of place and develop local pride in young people.

    I think the opportunities here are really significant and that the NCS social action model is a way to engage a new audience in our cause. BUT heritage organisations need to respond and find the opportunities. If help is needed then tell us what.

  10. View Sandra Stancliffe's profile Sandra Stancliffe
    Offline | Last seen: 1 year 6 months ago
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