My NCS Experience - Fatma
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Our summer programme is just around the corner, and to get you (even more!) excited about going and to give you a taste of what you can expect, we’re sharing stories from young people who have already taken part. This is Fatma’s experience...
I did the summer programme in 2019 and in the following October I was very fortunate to attend the ‘after NCS’ programme which was known as Kickstart. At Kickstart, I had the opportunity to meet over 259 young people from across the country who had done NCS as well - I met people from London to Northern Ireland! It was really a life changing experience for me and a huge reason for this, is because I got to meet my current best friend, Caitlin.
Caitlin and I were both from different parts of the country and we had no idea that NCS would draw us so close. Leading up to Kickstart, we would always talk to each other on social media and we got to know each other briefly. Then came the day that I would be travelling to Milton Keynes - a place I had never been! I was very nervous during the journey and I felt like I wanted to go back home, but Caitlin reassured me that it would be worth it. She was right! I finally met her and honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful that I had this opportunity.
Being honest, we are quite an interesting pair. Where Caitlin is from, she’d never gotten to interact with a Muslim person before she met me - she comes from a predominantly white area. Despite living hours apart it hasn’t stopped us becoming amazing friends. Without NCS we never would have met and it’s allowed us both to meet so many people from different backgrounds and walks of life, without any boundaries. It was such an eye opening experience getting to know a diverse range of individuals and so special to have so many like minded people together. Becoming friends with Caitlin has also allowed me to share so much about my culture and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn more and educate people around me.
At first, we didn’t think that we would get along as well as we do, just because we seem to be polar opposites - I’m loud and bubbly, leading big groups of games whereas Caitlin is the shy and quiet one. She has more of an introverted personality and it was really uplifting seeing her try to come out of her shell and build our friendship together. I think my confidence rubbed off on her and built her confidence!
On Kickstart, we had so much fun with each other and I still remember that somewhere in mine or Caitlin’s phone we have a video from the Halloween party of us just singing Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ horrendously but it made us bond! At the end of Kickstart, I cried because I thought I was never going to see Caitlin again and didn’t want to leave due to the memories and laughs we had shared.
But after Kickstart we stayed connected with each other and even attended NCS events together in London like social action design labs & BBC workshops. Although lockdown meant we had to stop meeting in person, it allowed us to connect together through social action online. We are both passionate about making positive change and social action is something that really helped us bond. During lockdown we created our Friends Inside campaign to help spread positivity during COVID-19. We held quarantine karaoke, live Kahoot! quizzes, and spread messages of positivity in our local areas. We wanted to give people an escape to have fun and connect with others to help improve their mental health. We both inspire each other so much with our support and admiration to keep pushing each other to be the best version that we can be. I’m so proud to call her one of my best friends and I’ll be forever grateful to NCS for bringing us together.
NCS has given us both so many incredible opportunities that never would’ve been possible and we’ve made lifelong memories and friendships. You get to learn life skills whilst having fun and creating meaningful social action projects.
It’s okay to be nervous but I promise you are not alone! Everyone is in the same boat and the minute you get to the programme there are so many team building activities to help you make new friends and the NCS staff are always there to support you. Even if you don’t know anybody on the programme it’s okay, you’ll be meeting new people and creating friendships like mine.
Even after you’ve completed the NCS programme your journey never stops. It keeps growing as you let it! So, if you’re thinking of signing up go for it - you won’t regret it!