My NCS Journey: Katie Aris, NCS Project Assistant

11802550_1682174345328509_4871069916798883421_oMy NCS Journey is very different to many young people who have participated in the programme previously. In 2013, James Shannon, the NCS Manager, visited my school to do an assembly about NCS and why we should sign up. I remember sitting there thinking ‘Can this get any more boring?’, so to be honest, I completely switched off and didn’t listen to a word he said and forgot all about it.

A few months later, my mum got a call from James asking if I would be interested in doing the programme, on the agreement that I do the first week, see how I like it and go from there. At the time, I was away, so completely oblivious to the situation, my mum signed me up for it! This was 4 days before the programme was due to start! I turned up the Monday morning, only knowing 1 other person and didn’t have a clue what I had been signed up for. I got talking to a couple of girls on the coach, and before I knew it, I was hooked. I absolutely loved the programme and enjoyed myself so much I ended up staying for the whole duration of the programme. I had the most amazing time meeting new friends and learning new skills, not to mention the amount of laughs we had!

After completing the programme, I put NCS onto my CV and within a few weeks I had got myself a Part time job for when I start college! For me, it was one of the biggest things I got out of doing the programme as well as self-confidence, as it showed employers that I had done something of my own back, learnt new skills and made a difference in my local community. From then on, I stayed in contact with James and PITC and grabbed every volunteering opportunity I could. I went to school assemblies with James and Lucy to help promote NCS, as well as helping to get young people signed on to the programme. In 2014, the opportunity came up to be a mentor for the summer NCS programme. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity, and was a mentor for a group of new young people. It was a great experience as it meant I could see the programme from a different point of view. I was then given the chance to be a mentor for the autumn programme, which although the weather wasn’t as nice as summer, it was still very enjoyable.

This year, I applied to be a Team Leader for the summer programme and was successful in the application. This meant that, with another member of staff, I was able to lead a team of 15 young people. This was an amazing opportunity for me, as I had started out as a participant, and 2 years later was part of the staff team.

Throughout this process, I also decided that I no longer wanted to attend university in September. I approached James and Lucy about a possible full time job within NCS and working with them. When a job became available, I applied, had my interview, and was extremely lucky and grateful to be offered the job. So I now work full time with NCS as a Project Assistant and couldn’t be happier. I have gone from not even wanting to do the programme in the first place, being a shy 16 year old participant, to now working full time on something I love and feel passionately about. If I could give one bit of advice to any young people leaving school, it would be to do the NCS programme, as nothing could prepare you better for college life and give you an insight to the real world. I have come so far since doing NCS and am very grateful for the opportunities given to me by James, Lucy and Pompey in the Community, as without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

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