Posts Tagged: National Citizen Service

Is the National Citizen Service worth the investment?

The latest independent evaluation of the government-backed National Citizen Service, which is delivered by a range of organisations including many charities, is a seminar in positivity.

The findings from researchers at Ipsos Mori reveal a highly popular youth scheme – no less than 97 per cent of participants who took part in 2013 would recommend the programme. It also shows the programme helped young people to improve a range of skills. Read more on Is the National Citizen Service worth the investment?…

David Cameron’s National Citizen Service is likely to interest only middle class and motivated teens

Volunteering was at the top of the political agenda for a brief moment yesterday, when David Cameron used his first major press conference since the beginning of the general election campaign to announce his party’s plans for a National Citizen Service scheme.

Under his system, 16-year-olds would be encouraged to spend the summer after they leave school doing a residential volunteering placement and some extra volunteering hours in their local communities. Charities, social enterprises and private firms would apply to the Government to become providers of the placements.

There will inevitably be practical concerns about all of this: would the process of applying to run the scheme leave charities competing against private sector firms? And would businesses use the opportunity to source free labour to cover staff holiday?

But there’s a bigger question here, about the ways in which politicians use volunteering to meet their social aims.

The type of volunteering Cameron is planning sounds remarkably similar to Labour’s community service scheme for 14 to 16-year olds, being run by volunteering charity v. The main difference, it seems, is that pupils at schools running Labour’s project have no choice but to volunteer.

The Tories’ plan is optional, and therefore likely to attract the type of teenagers that are already drawn to volunteering. They’re motivated and enthusiastic, and can afford to spend time volunteering rather than taking on paid work in their summer holidays. And they already do the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Cathedral Camps.

Nobody likes the phrase “compulsory volunteering” and there are serious doubts that it would work – Cameron admits that he had wanted to make national citizen service compulsory, but changed his mind on the advice of youth groups.

But if the Tories win the election, and want volunteering to be a social leveller, they’ll have to find a real incentive for people from less privileged backgrounds to get involved. It could be cash; it could be the guarantee of a job interview.

But their current plan, which Cameron describes as making the scheme “of such high quality and great benefit that everyone will want to take part,” is not enough.

Read more on David Cameron’s National Citizen Service is likely to interest only middle class and motivated teens…