It is always a great pleasure to get to meet the young recruits to the National Citizen Service on their summer programme which I was asked by David Cameron to help to design over 13 years ago now. It was launched in 2011 and hundreds of thousands of teenagers aged 15-17 have graduated from the scheme.
It was particularly good this year to see the full hands-on programme get back to normal after the severe disruption caused by the pandemic and the group I met at the Guildbourne Centre in Worthing on Tuesday had just come back from a week’s residential ‘outward bound’ activities on the Isle of Wight. This week they were busy organising fundraising activities in support of local good causes which included sponsored walks and cycle rides, which given the latest heatwave fortunately included sensible risk assessments about how to remain hydrated.
The two teams had to pitch to me and representatives from the scheme provider Concordia to scrutinise their plans. It is no mean feat being up on stage making a presentation to strangers. But, as intended, they all agreed that the scheme had boosted their confidence and they had benefitted from being taken out of their comfort zones, thrown in at the deep end and making new friends with other teenagers from often different backgrounds. Getting up at 7am in the morning on some days seemed to remain the biggest challenge though!
Over 150 young people will have graduated from NCS in Worthing alone this summer and will be great ambassadors for the next cohort coming through. More details on www.wearencs.com
Last week I joined farmers at Lychpole Farm in Sompting to greet NFU President Minette Batters who was doing a tour of Sussex to see how farmers were coping. It was a glorious summer’s day in an idyllic spot on the Downs and for once the farmers were not complaining about the weather, although admittedly they were mostly arable and able to get the crops in early and sell their grain at a high price. With the current rain shortage the same is not the case for vegetable producers and the price of fertilizer having more than troubled on the back of Ukraine means tougher times ahead.