Mental health focus for NCS welcomed following PM’s visit to council centre
Plans to put the National Citizen Service at the centre of efforts to boost mental health awareness among young people have been warmly welcomed by Oxfordshire County Council – which runs the course in the county.
Prime Minister Theresa May chose to make today’s announcement at the council’s South Wales-based Woodlands Centre, in the wake of national recognition for Oxfordshire’s NCS scheme.
Staff at the Powys centre, currently attended by scores of Oxfordshire teenagers completing their course, welcomed Mrs May as she outlined her plans for NCS to provide a dedicated mental health awareness course for young people and to roll out mental health training for frontline staff. She also announced plans to set up a new network for NCS graduates.
The Prime Minister explored the site and watched teams of young people tackling obstacle courses. She also found time to chat with many of the Oxfordshire NCS students about the challenges the next generation are facing and why mental health issues are so important to them.
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “We were delighted to host Theresa May at our Woodlands Centre today, and fully support the proposals to put NCS at the heart of plans to tackle mental health issues among young people.
“We’re very proud of our NCS scheme in Oxfordshire, which has grown from strength to strength with a record number of young people taking part again this year.”
The council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services Steve Harrod added: “The course has already proved invaluable for the personal development and wellbeing of thousands of Oxfordshire teenagers, and today’s announcement will further strengthen this positive impact, helping to tackle the stigma of mental health problems and ensuring new conversations are taking place among young people.”
NCS in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire was the very first council to deliver NCS in 2012, when the flagship Coalition Government scheme was first launched by Prime Minister and Oxfordshire MP David Cameron.
The county’s scheme for 15 – 17 year-olds offers a unique blend of social action projects, personal development and outdoor education. As well as being the biggest council provider, Oxfordshire now boasts the fastest growing local scheme of some 360 across the UK. Such has been its success in Oxfordshire that numbers taking part have almost doubled each year - 75 students in 2012 has become more than 1,000 signed up in 2017.
Although it is open to all children, the involvement of a wide range of professional council services in Oxfordshire such as the young carers team, youth offending and disability support teams enables many disadvantaged and vulnerable young people to benefit from the NCS experience.
Oxfordshire NCS summer course 2016 in numbers:
- 1,800 people, including graduates and their families attended the summer graduation
- The 614 graduates raised more than £30,000 for charity
- 36840 hours volunteered to Oxfordshire Community causes and charities
- Over 40 charities supported through campaigning, fundraising, volunteering