With over 600,000 young people 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.
I’VE NEVER HEARD OF NCS BEFORE - WHO ARE THEY?
NCS has been delivering programmes to Young People in England since its pilot programme back in 2009. With the support of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) it has since taken over half a million young people on the programme. In December 2019, NCS transitioned from a not-for-profit Community Interest Company to a Royal Charter body, achieving security as a national institution.
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 experience one to remember. Check out wearencs.com/network-providers to see who operates in your area.
AUTUMN '22 PROGRAMME
HOW LONG IS IT?
Autumn ‘22 lasts around two weeks in total. For the first seven days, you’ll come together with other young people as a team and learn new life skills. During that week you’ll spend three nights and four days away from home. Then, you’ll spend a number of days - adding up to thirty hours in total - designing and delivering a social action project on something you care about, to make a positive impact in your community.
WHERE DO PROGRAMMES TAKE PLACE?
You’ll find us dotted all over the country, in various locations. You’ll take part in loads of fun activities in and around your local area.
WHAT ACTIVITIES WILL I BE DOING?
The exact activities you take part in will depend on your local NCS team, but rest assured you’ll be doing things that’ll challenge you in the best way possible and give you loads of team building opportunities. You’ll then move on to activities that are all about getting life skills to set you up for the future (think money management, cooking, developing your public speaking). You’ll be feeling pretty fearless by this stage so it won’t faze you to then plan and bring to life a rewarding community project. And don’t worry, there’ll be plenty of down time to refresh and recharge too!
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.
WHO WILL I BE WITH?
You’ll be in a team of around 15 other young people from your local area. You might be taking part with classmates 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 on NCS!
WILL I MAKE FRIENDS?
Yes! Why are we so confident? Well, 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.
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. 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).
WHAT DO I EAT?
Important question. The food varies at each location and for each week – there could be self-service canteens, or you might be getting your chef’s hat on and doing some food prep yourself. Have any requirements? Is your diet vegan, halal, or 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 bring some snacks!
WHAT WILL MY SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS BE?
At NCS we believe that every young person should have a fair and equal opportunity to take part in our programmes. The facilities at each programme venue are different, some are dormitory style, some are safari/adventure lodges. At all sites our residential accommodation is split by male and female. You will be allocated a space in accommodation by the local team. If you or your parent/guardian wish to discuss what steps can be taken to ensure you feel comfortable during your time at NCS, you can request this via your joiner form, or get in touch with your local team. All requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Where appropriate and possible, the local team would seek to provide an alternative. Your information is treated confidentially at all times.
WHAT WILL BE IN PLACE TO ENABLE ME TO PRACTISE 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 Joiner Form. Our venues will be able to cater for this.
DO I NEED EXTRA £££ ON PROGRAMME?
In short, no. Some people bring some extra cash along for things like snacks, but you don’t need to.
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.
WILL THERE BE WIFI?
Good question, nobody wants to be away from Instagram for too long. It will depend on what you’re doing each day, but most venues have access to WiFi – along with sockets to keep your phone juiced up. It also depends on the activities you are doing – 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.
DOES NCS COUNT TOWARDS UCAS POINTS?
It doesn't, but do remember that UCAS looks for more than just points. Things 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!
SIGNING UP OR CHANGING YOUR PLANS
HOW OLD DO I NEED TO BE TO GO ON AUTUMN ’22?
NCS is designed for 16 and 17 year olds. Or, if you’re between 18 and 24 with SEND or a disability, please get in touch. Otherwise, if you have already turned 18 by 31 August 2022, or will turn 18 during the residential part (the first four days) of an Autumn experience, you unfortunately won’t be eligible. Sorry, folks.
HOW MUCH DOES AUTUMN ‘22 COST?
The most we’ll ask you to contribute is £50 (a pretty sweet deal considering a place on NCS can cost up to £1,500, the rest is funded by the government).
WHAT IF I CAN’T AFFORD £50?
We want everyone to be able to take part in NCS, so if the £50 contribution is a bit of a stretch, we have a bursary policy in place to help. Bursaries of up to 80% of the contribution are available. You’re eligible for our bursary if:
- You are in or have recently left care
- You are in receipt of Free School Meals
- You have an Education, Health and Care Plan
- You are a young carer
Give us a call and we’ll see how we can best support you. To find out more or to apply for our bursary, contact us on 0800 197 8010 or via live chat.
WHEN WILL I KNOW IF I’VE GOT A PLACE?
Once you’ve paid your contribution, and your parent or guardian has completed your joiner form, we’ll check everything over and let you know if we need anything else (such as further medical or support information). Then once that’s all tied up, keep an eye out for an email confirming your place on NCS. Happy days! Once you are allocated to your programme, more details will be available on MyNCS, your personal portal for the programme.
WHAT HAPPENS ONCE I’VE SIGNED UP?
Once you’ve completed your joiner form, all your medical details and paid your contribution, your local NCS team will be in touch leading up to your experience, and you’ll get invited to check out MyNCS, where you’ll find more programme information. You may even have the chance to attend events beforehand, where you can meet others going on NCS – so you won't have to wait until your autumn experience for the fun to begin!
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.
WHAT IF I NEED TO CHANGE MY DATES OR CAN NO LONGER ATTEND?
If you can no longer make it or if you’d like to change your date, let us know ASAP and we’ll try to get you booked onto a programme that better fits your plans.
CAN I GET A REFUND IF I CHANGE MY MIND?
If you decide you no longer want to attend, let us know within 14 days of making your payment and you will get a full refund. After 14 days you will not be eligible for a refund.
HOW DO I CONVINCE MY PARENTS/GUARDIAN TO LET ME GO?
We know parents and guardians can have lots of questions too! Without knowing what their reservations are about you attending Autumn ‘22, it's a tough one to answer, so tell them to give us a call on 0800 197 8010 for a chat. But, what we would say is to tell them that on our autumn experience you get to make lots of new mates, try new things that push you out of your comfort zone (in the best way possible!), build your confidence, gain life skills and work to give back to your community. You can show them this video as well!
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 ensure you have a positive NCS experience. When you sign up, tell us more about yourself in the joiner form 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. Have any questions? 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 young person signs up, we’ll ask them to tell us more about their individual needs in the joiner form. 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.
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.
ARE ALLERGIES/DIETARY NEEDS CATERED FOR?
They certainly are. To stop dietary requirements and allergies getting in the way of your experience, we ensure our venues can cater for everyone. Just let us know your needs when you sign up via the joiner 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 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 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.
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 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.
IS THERE A CONTACT NUMBER I CAN GIVE MY PARENTS?
There sure is. They can contact us on 0800 197 8010 between 10am-8pm Mon-Fri. 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, 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.
WHAT COVID-19 MEASURES ARE IN PLACE?
All of our programmes follow the National Youth Agency and government guidelines when it comes to COVID-19, so you can be sure that you’ll be having fun and staying safe at the same time!
You’ll get more information from your local NCS team before you start which will explain in detail everything that is in place for your safety, and outline any measures you may need to follow during your experience - like wearing face coverings etc. All activities you take part in and venues you go to will have specific COVID-19 risk assessments and NCS staff will be able to support you with any questions you might have. They’ll also discuss any testing arrangement with you. And you may be contacted just before you go on programme to answer some COVID-19 questions, to check you’re not having to self isolate or have any symptoms.
WHAT IS CHANGEMAKERS?
Changemakers is your chance to do some good and make an impact where you live. You’ll team up with other young people like you, and design and deliver social action projects for your community, on subjects that you’re passionate about. That could be mental health, the environment, homelessness, or even animals! Whatever you feel passionate about and want to sink your teeth into, you can do!
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
You’ll see your passions turned into action, help the people around you thrive, get a better understanding of how your community works and what it needs, and create a more positive and sustainable future for everyone. And on top of that, you’ll meet new people who think the same way you do, learn a lot about yourself, and gain a bunch of skills that’ll boost your personal development - think creativity, leadership, listening, teamwork, planning, problem solving, and project management - and look great on your CV!
HOW IS THE SOCIAL ACTION PROJECT CHOSEN? WHAT IF IT’S NOT SOMETHING I’M PASSIONATE ABOUT?
The projects you design and deliver are chosen by you! You’ll team up with new people, share what you’re passionate about, discuss different options, and then choose something that is important to all of you. If you're not passionate about a particular project you can let the provider know and they will be able to support you to deliver a project you enjoy too. Your group can have more than one project running at a time!
HOW OLD DO I HAVE TO BE TO TAKE PART?
To take part you’ll have to be 16 or 17. Although you can also participate if you are 15 so long as you are in Year 11 at school. If you’re still taking part in Changemakers when you turn 18, you’ll be able to finish your project and then your Changemakers journey will come to an end.
Young people aged 18-24, with Education, Health and Care Plans, who were previously unable to access an NCS experience, may also take part in Changemakers
HOW DO I JOIN?
Taking part is easy - if you’ve already been on an NCS experience, check your inbox, you may already have an email from your local provider about joining the Changemakers group. If you haven’t got one and would like to join, just drop us an email at email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch with your local provider to get it sorted.
DOES IT COST ANYTHING?
Nope! The sessions themselves are completely free to join. You may have to travel to your sessions if they happen in person, so there may be a small cost if you take public transport. If you think this might be difficult please speak to your local provider.
HOW OFTEN DO THE SESSIONS HAPPEN?
Changemakers sessions will run at least once a month. Depending on where you are, you may take part in more frequent meetings. Your local provider will be able to let you know what's happening where you are when you’ve signed up.
HOW MUCH TIME WILL I HAVE TO GIVE?
You can engage as much or as little as you would like. Changemakers will be running regularly until the end of December 2022, and sessions usually happen at least once a month.
WHERE DO MY SESSIONS HAPPEN?
Depending on where you live, you could either be meeting virtually or face to face. You’ll be told all the details about each of your meetings once you’ve signed up.
CAN I JOIN A CHANGEMAKERS GROUP IN ANOTHER AREA WITH MY FRIENDS?
The great thing about Changemakers is that not only will you be doing some good in your area, but you’ll make a bunch of new mates too! So while we suggest sticking to your local sessions and meeting new people, we understand that sometimes you just want to do things with your pals. You can join a Changemakers session in your friend’s area by speaking to your local provider.
I CAN’T JOIN ONE OF THE SESSIONS, IS THAT OKAY?
It’s best if you do attend all of the sessions, but we totally understand that sometimes life happens, and things pop up. So, if you can’t attend a session just let your local provider know ASAP and they’ll inform the rest of your team.
CAN I LEAVE CHANGEMAKERS IF I DON’T LIKE IT?
Of course. As much as we’d love for you to stay through to the end and see your passion turned into action, we know it might not be the right fit for everyone. If it’s not your cup of tea, just let your local provider know ASAP.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON IN MY LOCAL AREA?
We regularly share stories from Changemakers groups on Connect, our digital hub, so take a look at those to see what other people have got up to and the kinds of projects that might be happening near to you. If you're interested to know exactly what's going on with your local Changemakers groups, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can put you in touch with your local provider.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE DONE AN NCS EXPERIENCE TO JOIN CHANGEMAKERS?
Nope, you don’t need to have taken part in any NCS experience. If you’ve gone on one of our summer or autumn programmes, you’ll have more of an idea of what a social action project looks like, but it’s 100% not an issue if you haven’t! You’ll be taught all about creating a project, what it means for your community and how to make it the best it can be. And hey, Changemakers might be the first thing you do with NCS, but it doesn’t have to be the last either! Check out everything we have to offer you here.
DOES CHANGEMAKERS COUNT TOWARDS UCAS POINTS?
It doesn't, but do remember that UCAS looks for more than just points. Experiences like Changemakers show you have a wide 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 THERE ANY RESIDENTIAL STAYS?
Nope. Changemakers are single sessions, either done virtually or face-to-face. You’ll be told all the details and timings once you’ve signed up.
WHAT IS UK YEAR OF SERVICE?
UK Year of Service is a new opportunity for 18 to 24 year olds to take part in a paid service placement for nine to twelve months. The opportunities are countrywide and aim to help you become an active citizen with a career path through a socially-focused organisation.
WHAT ROLES ARE ON OFFER?
There are lots of different types of roles available, within organisations all across the country. Whatever your passion, we’ll find something that will work for you!
Some examples of roles and industries are:
Environment: Land Management placements, Environmental skills trainees, Tree Wardens, Landscape Designers, Insulation Fitters
Healthcare: Health Trainers, Emergency Response Assistants, Clinical Assistants, Volunteer Coordinators
Public service: School Service Leader, Classroom Assistants, Community Support Officers, Community Development Assistant, Befrienders
HOW LONG WILL I BE EMPLOYED?
The length of your placement will vary depending on the role you take on and the organisation you work with, but it will be at least nine months in length and could be up to 12 months.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
If you’re aged 18-24 you’re all set to go!
HOW DO I APPLY FOR THIS JOB?
Just head to the UK Year of Service page and submit your details. Once you’ve done so, we’ll match you with work opportunities that are available to you.
HOW MUCH DO I GET PAID?
Whatever placement you do, you’ll get paid the national minimum wage at least, in addition to your National Insurance contribution. On top of this, you’ll also get around five hours of weekly training, support finding future roles, and in some cases, formal qualifications, so your CV will benefit too!
WHAT IF THIS ISN’T THE RIGHT JOB FOR ME?
We want to make sure you have the best experience possible, but sometimes, we understand things just don’t work out. If you wish to opt-out of the placement, you’ll be able to do so, in line with your contract terms.
HOW DO I GET TO WORK OR WILL THIS BE WORKING FROM HOME?
Depending on lockdown circumstances, you may start your placement from home. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you’re all set up to have a great start wherever you are.
I HAVEN’T HAD AN INTERVIEW IN A WHILE, WHAT IS THE RECRUITING PROCESS LIKE?
Once you’ve submitted your details, your chosen placement partner(s) will be in touch within three working days. For every placement, you’ll need a CV, and if you’re successful you’ll have an interview with one of our partners. We’ll be here to help you every step of the way!
WHAT OTHER BENEFITS WILL I GET AS A UK YEAR OF SERVICE MEMBER?
We want your UK Year of Service experience to be the best and most impactful it can be, so that you’re totally world and work ready. Alongside your placements, you’ll get the chance to take part in a number of different development opportunities to help you get the most out of your time and leave with transferable knowledge and skills for future roles in socially-focused organisations:
Social Action - Anyone has the potential to change the world. We'll reserve some of your placement hours so you can take part in meaningful community projects. NCS has a long history of supporting people to stage social action, and this is no different. Why not use some of your time on your placement to make a difference in your local area?
Community - We develop more when we connect with others. We'll bring together groups at national and local levels so you can grow your networks. You could be engaging with socially-focused companies at one of our large-scale cohort events, or meeting regularly with a smaller group of like-minded colleagues. It’s a chance for you to grow, reflect and be inspired together.
Support - We want everyone to feel like they can bring their whole self to work. So we'll provide access to dedicated support, on hand to assist you with personal situations that might affect your placement, and will help you prepare for progression after the programme ends.
You’ll also get the chance to help us design and shape our UK Year of Service programme, whether that's by providing feedback or stepping up to take a lead on some of our activities. We can't wait to see what you can do!
WHAT IS THE ROLE OF NCS TRUST IN UK YEAR OF SERVICE?
NCS Trust RCb is the National Partner for the UK Year of Service initiative. Our role as the National Partner is to generate awareness of the opportunities available to young people, support Placement Providers with their recruitment process, provide training and enrichment across placements, support with evaluation and provide operational leadership to our placement partners.