With over 500,000 NCSers that have gone before you, chances are you’re not the first to ask it. We’ve pulled together all our FAQs to try and make your life a little easier.
If we don’t have the answer for you here, get in touch.
About the programme
WHERE DOES NCS TAKE PLACE?
You’ll find us dotted all over the country, in various locations. In the first two weeks, you’ll wave goodbye to home for a taste of the independent life, living in our selected accommodation. It’ll be outside your local area but leave the logistics to us – we’ll get you there and back. For the last phase, it’s back home for a community project.
WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU MEAN BY ‘ACCOMMODATION’?
You could be living it up in university halls, kipping under the stars in a festival-style wigwam, or maybe some new place we haven’t even discovered yet. It all depends on where your experience takes place – your local NCS team will be able to tell you the exact details.
WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL I BE DOING?
In the first week, you’ll tickle your adventurous side. You might find yourself swinging from the high ropes, climbing impressive walls or building winning rafts. Phase 2 activities are all about getting life skills that set you up for the future (think money management, cooking, developing your public speaking...). You’ll be feeling pretty fearless by this stage so when it comes to Phase 3, it won’t faze you that you’ll be in charge; helping to plan and bring to life a rewarding community project. Sound like a lot? Don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of down time to refresh and recharge.
HOW LONG IS IT?
In all, NCS lasts three to four weeks in summer. It’s broken up into different phases and for the first week, you’ll spend five days (that’s four nights) away. Same goes for week two, with two days back home in between. The last phase is either one or two weeks and that’s in your local community – so you’ll be reunited with your own bed each evening.
WILL I EVER BE FORCED TO DO AN ACTIVITY?
Nope, that’s not our style. You can absolutely sit out if you really don’t want to do something, without feeling any pressure. No one will ever force you to do anything, and that includes your mates! What we may do though is encourage you to challenge yourself where you can – you might just surprise yourself. But in the end it’ll always be your decision.
WHAT DO I EAT?
Important question. The food varies at each location and for each phase – there could be self-service canteens, or you might be getting your chef’s hat on in a university-style accommodation. Have any requirements? Vegan, halal, gluten free… you name it, we cater for it. Just let us know beforehand and we’ll be sure to keep your belly full. And hey, if you’re worried about what’ll be on the menu, why not make a little space in your suitcase for some snacks?!
CAN I BRING MY PHONE?
Big question, but yes don’t panic, you can keep up with the outside world while on NCS. In fact we want you to share and shout about your experience! There will be times that we’ll ask you to leave your phone behind – like if you’re about to take the plunge into an outdoor activity – but apart from that, tap away.
AM I ALLOWED STUFF LIKE STRAIGHTENERS AND MAKEUP?
Sure. It’s important you feel comfortable from start to finish, so bring along whatever you need to feel at ease (within reason that is – we may not have room for your TV or drum kit). Even if you’re sleeping under the stars there’ll still be showers and places to get ready for your day ahead, so rest assured you’ll feel right at home.
WHAT ABOUT MY XBOX OR PLAYSTATION (OR BOTH)?
Unfortunately not, but it’s safe to say you won’t miss it. From learning how to start a campfire to just relaxing around it with your new mates, there’s going to be so much for you to experience that we’re willing to bet you won’t think about those home comforts once.
WILL THERE BE WIFI?
Good question, nobody wants to be away from Instagram for too long. It will depend which NCS experience you take part in, but most accommodation for Phase 2 should have all the WiFi you need – along with plenty of sockets to keep your phone juiced up. How else could you tell the world how much fun you’re having?! Phase 1 varies depending on the location – not much wifi to be had if you’re on top of a mountain – but your local NCS team will be able to share more information on this.
IS THERE A CURFEW?
Well, yes, there is a ‘lights out’ time. But only to make sure you feel totally refreshed and energised for each day and to help you make the most of your experience. Plus, not everyone is a night owl, so we aim to find the right balance to suit everybody.
CAN I COME WITH MY MATES?
If you’ve got a mate going on NCS, we’ll try our very best to get you booked onto the same programme. Just drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with their name, live chat us via our website or give us a call on 0800 197 8010. Our early summer programmes get booked up quickly, so picking a later date or being flexible will give you the best chance of going with a friend. Just remember, whether you come with your bestie or on your own, you’ll make loads of mates (we have hundreds of thousands of happy grads to prove it).
WHO RUNS THE PROGRAMME?
Because we run our programme all over the UK, we partner with some amazing regional experts whose mission it is to deliver the best NCS experience in your area. Your local NCS Team will be the ones meticulously planning every little detail to make your summer one to remember. Check out wearencs.com/network-providers to see who operates in your area.
WHO WILL I BE WITH?
You’ll be in a team of around 15 other teens from your local area. You might recognise the odd face from your school or college, or you might be meeting everyone for the first time. That’s the beauty of it – lots of new mates await at NCS! You’ll likely join up with others too, for the first two phases. So if your friends have signed up for the same dates but aren't in your team of 15, chances are you’ll be staying at the same location.
I NEED TO MISS A DAY ON PROGRAMME, IS THIS POSSIBLE?
You’ll be required to attend the entire programme (and trust us, you won’t want to miss a moment), but we get that this isn’t always possible. So if you have any exceptional circumstances – bereavement, illness, serious injury, medical, significant family occasion, your school prom etc – you’ll need to discuss these with your local NCS team as soon as possible to see what steps can be taken.
WILL I MAKE FRIENDS?
Yes! Why so confident? We have thousands of stories of young people going it alone on NCS, and leaving with newfound mates they were so grateful to meet. So don’t be worried about not knowing anyone – most will be in the same boat.
HOW OLD DO I NEED TO BE TO GO ON NCS?
NCS is designed for 16 and 17 year olds. Saying that, you can go this summer as a 15-year-old, as long as you turn sweet 16 on or by 31 August 2020. If you have already turned 18 by this date, you unfortunately won’t be eligible. Sorry, folks.
WHAT IF I NEED TO CHANGE MY DATES OR CAN NO LONGER ATTEND?
If you can no longer make it, let us know ASAP so we can offer your place to someone else. Or if you’d like to change your date, get in touch and we’ll see what we can do to get you booked onto another programme.
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE I’VE SIGNED UP?
If you’ve completed your application, all your medical deets and paid your contribution, your local NCS team will be in touch leading up to your experience. You may even have the chance to attend fun events where you can meet others going – so you won't have to wait until summer for NCS to start. Phew.
HOW MUCH DOES NCS COST?
The most we’ll ask you to contribute is £50 (a pretty sweet deal considering a place at NCS costs £1,500, which is funded by the government). And at certain times of the year, it could cost even less! We also have a bursary scheme available that’s 100% confidential, so just get in touch if you don’t think you can afford it.
DO I NEED EXTRA £££ ON WEEKS 1 AND 2?
In short, no. Your £50 covers all your food, accommodation and activities in Phases 1 and 2. Some people bring a tenner along for things like snacks, but you don’t need to. You’ll be back home for the ‘Do Good’ phase, so you might need some change for the bus or some lunch money. But it’s your neighbourhood so you’ll know better than us.
WHAT IF I CAN’T AFFORD THE £50?
We want every teen to be able to take part in NCS so if the £50 fee is stopping you, just let us know and we can chat about your options. Bursaries are also available for those that are eligible, so give us a call and we’ll see how we can best support you.
IS THERE A CONTACT NUMBER I CAN GIVE MY PARENTS?
There sure is. They can contact us on 0800 197 8010 between 8am-9pm Mon-Sat and 8am-6pm Sun and Bank Holidays. Once you’ve started NCS, your local team will give you an emergency number that parents/guardians can call if needed.
I’M A PARENT, HOW CAN I GET IN CONTACT WITH MY YOUNG PERSON WHILST THEY ARE ON PROGRAMME?
If you need to contact your teen (or just full-on miss them), call or text their number if they’re taking a phone with them – they’ll have some down time during the programme to chat. You’ll also be given an emergency contact number from the local NCS team should you need it.
WHO ARE THE STAFF ON THE PROGRAMME? WHAT EXPERIENCE DO THEY HAVE?
Rest assured, your teen is in excellent hands. Those who run the programme are made up of staff from local NCS teams (https://wearencs.com/network-providers) and seasonal staff. Our seasonal staff come from a variety of backgrounds – teachers, youth workers and even NCS graduates. They go through a robust recruitment process to ensure they’re suitable, have full training and are required to complete an enhanced DBS check, too.
WHAT IS YOUR SAFEGUARDING PROCESS?
The health, wellbeing and safety of all young people on NCS is of utmost importance to us. There’ll be a ‘go-to’ staff member for anyone feeling worried, anxious or wants to chat. We have a team available 24 hours a day to deal with all safeguarding issues – all our staff are DBS checked and clear guidance and training is provided in order for all young people to feel safe. If any issues or concerns are raised before the programme starts, a plan will be put in place to ensure they have a safe, positive NCS experience.
I HAVE A DISABILITY – CAN I STILL TAKE PART?
Yes, it’s our job to make NCS accessible for everyone, so we’ll do everything we can to accommodate young people with disabilities. When you sign up, tell us more about yourself in the Young Person Joining Information so we can support you in the best way possible. In some cases, you might get a call from us to discuss your individual requirements and to find the best NCS programme for you. Also all our providers are trained to a high standard to assess individual needs and ensure you have a blast. Have any questions? Call 0800 197 8010. Or head to the NCS website for our live chat.
ARE ALLERGIES/DIETARY NEEDS CATERED FOR?
They certainly are. To stop dietary requirements and pesky allergies getting in the way of NCS, we ensure our venues can cater for everyone. Just let us know your needs when you sign up via the Joining Information Form. Or if you’d like to chat to somebody, call 0800 197 8010. Or head to the NCS website for our live chat.
WHAT ADJUSTMENTS CAN BE MADE FOR MY YOUNG PERSON WITH ADDITIONAL NEEDS?
At NCS, we’ll do everything we can to ensure our programmes are inclusive and accessible at every stage. So when your teen signs up, we’ll ask them to tell us more about their individual needs in the Young Person Joining Information. In some cases, you might get a call from us to chat about how we can support them and find the NCS programme that’s best for them. Adjustments made will always respond to the individual. This might include (but isn’t limited to) physical spaces, level and type of staffing support, equipment and activities.
WHAT SUPPORT DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE FOR TRANSGENDER YOUNG PEOPLE?
NCS is open to all, and trans people are no exception. We’ll always do what we can to create an environment where all teens feel safe to be themselves. So if you have any questions or concerns – for example, you might like to discuss accommodation preferences, toilets, changing room facilities etc – let us know and we’ll work with you to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
IF I HAVE A YOUNG CARER WHO WOULD LIKE TO ATTEND HOW CAN WE GET THEM THE SUPPORT THEY NEED AT HOME?
While we can’t provide respite cover, we can work with your Local Authority to look into arranging appropriate cover. We want everyone to be able to experience NCS so get in touch and we’ll discuss how we can best support you.
DOES NCS COUNT TOWARDS UCAS POINTS?
It doesn't, but do remember that UCAS look for more than just points. Experiences like NCS show you have a wider range of skills and experience. And while we’re at it, employers are also looking for more than just grades – it’s you as a whole they’re interested in!
ARE UNACCOMPANIED ASYLUM-SEEKING CHILDREN ELIGIBLE?
Yes, everyone is welcome on NCS. Your key worker will just need to provide all the necessary documentation and act as your ‘guardian’ for any concerns. If you’d like to chat to us about questions, call 0800 197 8010.
WHAT WILL BE IN PLACE TO ENABLE ME TO PRACTICE MY FAITH DURING NCS?
We’ll always provide a designated multi-faith space for those that wish to pray, quietly reflect or meditate. And if you have any dietary requirements, like Kosher or Halal – or anything else for that matter – let us when you fill in the Young Person Joining Information. Our venues will be able to cater for this.