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Teenagers complete National Citizen Service summer of a lifetime with the British Red Cross

22 August 2012

A Bristol teenager has credited the British Red Cross and National Citizen Service with keeping her out of trouble over the summer holidays.

Lily Anslow was one of 30 young people taking part in National Citizen Service (NCS), a flagship government initiative which aims to promote a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society by bringing young people from different backgrounds together to make a difference in their communities.

Over the past five weeks the 16 and 17 year olds have taken part in away-from-home residential experiences, taken on new challenges, learnt new skills, made new friends and developed and delivered social action projects

“I have definitely grown up as a person over the last five weeks,” said Lily, 16, from Cadbury Heath, Bristol. “My path in life is the same, but I will tread it as a stronger person.”

Lily finished her GCSEs in June, but her teachers at The Grange School and Sports College, Bristol, worried she would fall in with the wrong crowd during the long summer holidays. They referred her to Connexions, who in turn encouraged Lily to sign up for National Citizen Service with Young Devon, one of the main delivery partners of the scheme and the Red Cross.

The aspiring teacher, who hopes to study for her A-levels at sixth form college in September, was excited by the programme and signed up.

The teenagers, who all finished their GCSEs in June or are in Year 12, started the NCS with the Red Cross with a week-long camping trip in Weymouth, Dorset. During this time they took part in numerous outdoor activities including kayaking, rock climbing and abseiling.

They then spent another week at the University of West England (UWE) in Bristol, experiencing university life and enjoying workshops on different subjects including first aid. They also spent time with the Kenyan Olympic team who were staying at the university while training in the city prior to the games.

Once the residential courses finished, the young people moved on to their social action projects. This included running a pop-up Red Cross charity shop at the music festival WOMAD in Wiltshire, organising an ‘Olympic Spirit’ torch relay on the Bristol Downs and taking part in a sponsored wheelchair push along the Bristol to Bath cycle path. 

“The whole thing has been a highlight for me,” said Lily. “I have got to do things I have never done before and I have learnt how to communicate with others, that is something I struggled with before.”

Lucy Tutton, Red Cross youth and schools manager, added: “The young people taking part in NCS have put all their energy in to the past five weeks and come away with a huge range of new skills, experiences and friendships.

“The project was designed to encourage young people to engage with their communities, to learn new skills, challenge themselves, meet new friends and make a real difference in the area in which they live. They have certainly done that with our support and guidance.”

A second wave of students are currently taking part in NCS with the Red Cross and are holding an Olympic Spirit day on Wednesday, August 29. Highlights include a wheelchair fundraising walk and a talk by Blaire Hannan, a member of the British Paralympic Transition Squad.