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.
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 2021 PROGRAMME
HOW LONG IS IT?
Our autumn programmes are two weeks long. That’s two weeks of adventures, meeting new mates, taking on challenges together, picking up life skills and finding out what you’re really made of!
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.
WILL AUTUMN HAVE A RESIDENTIAL ASPECT?
All the planning and arrangements for our residential programmes, for summer and autumn, take place in December or January. This is so we have enough time to promote them to you, so you’re sure of what kind of experience you’ll be getting when you sign up! It’s also equally important that our delivery partners have time to prepare everything.
This year, some programmes started back in May, so all of our planning and preparations have already happened. The changes in the government’s rules on residentials have therefore come too late for us to be able to change anything...as much as we’d love to!
But don’t worry! NCS is never about how long you do the programme for, it’s about what you get out of it. So you’ll still get a safe, fun and meaningful experience, but you’ll just get to sleep in your own bed every night!
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. In your first week, lunch will be provided for you – 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. In your second week, it’ll be your job to bring your own lunch with you. And hey, if you’re worried about feeling peckish at any point, why not bring some snacks too!
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 should have all the Wi-Fi you need – along with plenty of sockets to keep your phone juiced up. It also depends on the activities you are doing – not much Wi-Fi 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. 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!
SIGNING UP OR CHANGING YOUR PLANS
HOW OLD DO I NEED TO BE TO GO ON PROGRAMME?
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 this 31st August 2021, you unfortunately won’t be eligible. Sorry, folks.
HOW MUCH DOES THE AUTUMN PROGRAMME COST?
Two weeks of new mates, fun challenges, gaining a bunch of future-proofing skills...all for free! Now that’s a great deal!
AM I ELIGIBLE FOR AN NCS BURSARY?
As our autumn programme is free this year, there’s no need for bursaries :)
WHEN WILL I KNOW IF I’VE GOT A PLACE?
Once you’ve 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.
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 programme starts 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. If you change your mind and no longer wish to take part in NCS, you have 14 days from making your payment to let us know and we will give you a refund.
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 the times below:
Monday 08.30 - 1900
Tuesday to Friday 10.30 - 1900
Saturday 1100 - 1600
Sunday 1100 - 1500
And, once you’ve started on your programme, your local team will give you an emergency number that your parents/guardians can use if they need to.
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 SAFETY 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 arrangements with you if applicable And you’ll be contacted just before you go on programme to answer some COVID-19 questions, to check you’re not having to self isolate or experiencing any symptoms.
WILL I BE TESTED FOR COVID-19 BEFORE I TAKE PART IN MY NCS EXPERIENCE?
We want everyone to be safe and healthy when they take part in NCS and will be following all relevant government guidelines surrounding COVID-19. We recommend that if you have symptoms of COVID-19 you apply to be tested via NHS.UK prior to attending your NCS activities, or isolate for at least 10 days following the development of your symptoms. We also recommend you take a rapid lateral flow test (LFT) within 24 hours before your programme starts. You can get free LFT tests from pharmacists or through the Government’s website, and one box gives you enough tests to do over two weeks, so we recommend you do them periodically through your programme. However, there is no legal requirement for you to take a COVID-19 test before taking part in NCS.
WHAT ABOUT PPE - DO I NEED TO BRING A FACE COVERING?
In England, face coverings are no longer required by law to be worn in indoor spaces. Your Team Leader may recommend that you wear a face covering in an enclosed public space during your programme to keep you as safe as possible.
Please bring your face covering along with you as it may be required for activities where you are working in poorly ventilated spaces or in close contact with other young people. Your local delivery provider will have theirs and will advise you on when it is recommended that you wear yours during your NCS experience. Please be reminded that face coverings may need to be worn in some areas of the country on public transport, if that is how you’ll be travelling to get to your NCS Activity. We also recommend bringing a little bottle of hand sanitiser with you to keep your mitts clean!
WHAT IF I FALL ILL WHILST ATTENDING MY NCS ACTIVITIES?
In the event that you develop symptoms of COVID-19 during your NCS experience, you should inform the staff member present and return home to arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. You can do this by visiting NHS.UK to arrange a test or contact NHS 119 via telephone. Wherever possible we will arrange for your parents / guardians to collect you should you become unwell during NCS activities.
If your COVID-19 test comes back negative, you will be able to return to your activities with NCS. If your test is negative but you remain unwell, you should not return to your NCS activities until you have fully recovered.
If you do test positive for COVID-19, you should NOT return to NCS activities until your 10 day isolation period has ended and NHS Test and Trace will speak directly to those that you have been in contact with to offer advice.
WHAT IF MY LOCAL AREA OR REGION GOES BACK INTO LOCKDOWN?
With the support of government and sector bodies, youth work has thus far been enabled to continue in areas affected by lockdown, representing the shared view that youth sector activities are an essential service and a key part of the transition back to school.
In the event of a local lockdown we will work with the National Youth Agency and do everything we can to enable your autumn experience to go ahead as planned. In exceptional circumstances, where a programme cannot take place, your local team will contact you to discuss alternative options.
SUMMER 2021 RESIDENTIAL CANCELLATION
WHY ARE YOU CANCELLING THE RESIDENTIAL BIT OF NCS?
All the planning and arrangements for our residential programmes take place in December or January. This is so we have enough time to promote them to you, so you’re sure of what kind of experience you’ll be getting when you sign up! It’s also equally important that our delivery partners have time to prepare everything.
This year, some programmes started in May, with the majority starting from 5 July, so all of our planning and preparations have already happened. The changes in the government’s rules on residentials have therefore come too late for us to be able to change anything...as much as we’d love to!
But don’t worry! NCS is never about how long you do the programme for, it’s about what you get out of it. So you’ll still get a safe, fun and meaningful experience, but you’ll just get to sleep in your own bed every night!
MY PROGRAMME IS NOW TWO WEEKS AND NOT THREE, WITH NO RESIDENTIAL. WHY IS THE PRICE NOT REDUCED?
All our programmes are designed to have a positive impact on your life and allow you to take part in new challenges, get a taste for independence and pick up some skills that’ll last a lifetime. Whether you go on a two week or three week programme, the overall contribution we ask for is £50. A place on NCS actually costs considerably more - but the government subsidises all places! So the money is more about your spot on programme, rather than the amount of time you’re there.
CAN I GO ON A DIFFERENT DATE TO THE RESCHEDULED ONE I’VE BEEN MOVED TO?
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. Just give us a call on 0800 197 8010 or live chat us.
CAN I DEFER AND GO THIS AUTUMN OR NEXT SUMMER?
We’d love for you to stay on your spot this summer, but we understand if you want to defer. So, as long as you’re age eligible for when you’d like to go (you can’t go if you’re 18+) then we can definitely sort that out for you.
CAN I HAVE A REFUND?
Just because the residential part of programme is cancelled doesn’t mean the whole thing isn’t going ahead! You’ll still get two weeks of new adventures, new mates and turning your passion into action, so we’d love it if you stayed on! But, we understand if you want to cancel and get a refund, and if that is what you’d like we can definitely sort that out. The normal refund policy applies to anyone who has signed up to an original two week programme.
WHY SHOULD I STILL GO?
Because you’re still going to have a summer you’ll never forget…you just get the comfort of your own bed too! So, you can still expect to take on new challenges, pick up skills to help you smash future goals, pursue a passion project in your community, meet new mates that might last a lifetime, and have a whole load of fun along the way. And hey, it might be easier to fit around any other summer plans you have!
MY FRIEND IS ALREADY ON A TWO WEEK PROGRAMME, CAN I GO WITH THEM NOW?
One of the great things about going on NCS is that you get to meet loads of new people and make new friends. But, we totally understand that sometimes you want your besties along for the ride too. We can’t always guarantee that it’s possible to get you together, but if you let us know your friend’s name and which school, college, or sixth form they go to, we can get in touch with your local NCS team and try and make it happen. Once we’ve got all the info we need, your friend will have to select the same location and start date as you too. Our summer programmes also fill up really quickly, so the more flexible you can be the better! Give us a call on 0800 197 8010 or live chat us to get it started.
IS THERE ANY CHANCE RESIDENTIALS WILL RESTART LATER IN THE SUMMER IF GUIDELINES CHANGE AGAIN?
Unfortunately not. We’ve made the decision to cancel the residential aspects this summer, even if guidelines change. This will make it easier for everyone to know exactly what they’re signing up for.
WHAT ABOUT AUTUMN? WILL THERE BE RESIDENTIALS THEN?
Just like summer, we’ve made the decision to cancel the residential aspects for autumn. We have to plan everything really far ahead of time, to make sure everyone knows what kind of experience they’ll be signing up for. So even if government guidelines change regarding residentials, it will be too late for us.
IS THERE A CHANCE THE TWO WEEK PROGRAMME WILL ALSO BE CANCELLED?
Although we can’t be totally sure what might happen with COVID-19, right now it looks like things are moving in a more positive direction and we feel confident that we’ll be able to run all of our programmes over summer!
WHAT IS CHANGEMAKERS?
Changemakers are local groups that will take the form of a monthly meeting where young people can get together to design and deliver sustainable social action projects in their local area with support from their delivery partner. Depending on government guidelines around COVID-19, the meetings may take place virtually or in person. You will be told of any updates to how you meet.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME?
You’ll get a whole load of transferable, employability skills that’ll make your CV shine and open up the world of work. You’ll get project management experience and the chance to grow your professional network, all whilst doing good for your community and helping the country get back on its feet!
WHO CAN JOIN CHANGEMAKERS?
If you’re living in England, have completed an NCS programme or taken part in any NCS activities in 2020, you’re good to go!
CAN I JOIN CHANGEMAKERS IF I'M 18?
Yes! Changemakers is for all young people who have taken part in an NCS activity.
HOW DO I SIGN UP?
Keep an eye on your emails for a Changemakers related email! Or, if you can’t wait, get in touch with us at 0800 197 8010 and we’ll sort your details out.
WHAT IF I CAN'T COME TO EVERY MEETING?
Don’t worry! Just let your local provider know when you can and can’t attend, and go to the ones you’re able to.
WHAT CHANGEMAKERS GROUP CAN I JOIN?
Changemakers groups are based on where you live, so it would be the Local Authority area that you live in now. If you’ve moved house since completing your NCS activity, please get in touch with us here 0800 197 8010 and we’ll let your local provider know.
DO I NEED ANY TRAINING?
Changemakers is all about turning your passions into projects, so a lot of the work will come from you! But, we’ll provide you with all the support you’ll need to make sure you’re confident in what you’re doing.
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.