Mentor Nikhita tells us about her experiences…

A couple years ago I participated in the National Citizen Service (NCS) in my hometown of Loughborough. NCS is a 4-week-long activity programme that takes place in the school summer holiday.  Any 15-17-year-old who lives in England can take part, all for the bargain price of up to £50! 

Click to go to the National Citizen Service website (opens in a new window)

National Citizen Service

The first week you camp away from home and do some amazing fun things that you may not have tried before like canoeing, climbing, surfing etc.  The second week you stay for a week at a local university and spend time learning new skills like first aid and self-defence as well as taking part in team activities like Dragon’s Den where you have to create a product to try to sell to real businesses. The third week is spent with a small team planning fundraising activities for a local charity and then the final week, actually fundraising or refurbishing a project for the charity.

At first, I felt a bit anxious, because I was the only one in my group who was hard of hearing, but everyone was supportive and made sure I understood. Unlike other places I had previously been to, the NCS staff didn’t patronise me or assume I couldn’t do certain activities, instead they told me to let them know if I needed any help.  The residential staff and the university staff were also aware of my hearing impairment without me telling them as NCS briefed them in advance which was great. I enjoyed it so much and made lots of new friends that I still talk to to this day.

Last year I decided to become a mentor for NCS as it was a paid 4-week work experience. During the recruitment process it became clear that they actively encouraged disabled applicants to apply, because this would help put would-be participants at ease.   Mentors came from a diverse range of backgrounds.  One mentor that I made friends with was an amputee, which shows how inclusive NCS is. I made lots of friends with other mentors as we would spend a lot of time together working night shifts and living together during the first two weeks.  The NCS staff were like one big family and I am in contact with most of them today. I really enjoyed my time both as a participant and as a mentor and this has been a useful experience to mention when applying for university and jobs.