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The National Citizen Service (NCS) is a voluntary personal and social development programme for 16 and 17 year olds. It consists of three phases: an outdoor and adventurous teambuilding residential experience; a skills development and community exploration residential experience; and a social action project.
In October 2020 we partnered up with the NCS scheme in Carlisle and Pride in North Cumbria, a charity that provides social and support services to young people that identify as LGBTQ+, to complete a social action project with young people in Carlisle.
On 26 and 28 October, ten young people completed the social action project with CADAS and the other partner organisations to help equip them to help other young people locally. The first day provided the young people with a bank of up-to-date information about alcohol, drugs and sexual health issues. As the aim of the project was for the young people to design and implement their own social action project, they were encouraged to prepare a session plan for day two that was focused on meeting their own learning needs and could be used in the project.
The young people collaborated and managed to address a common issue that affects young people – ‘spiking’. This is when someone adds alcohol or drugs into someone’s drink without them knowing about it. It has often been linked to crimes such as robbery and sexual assault.
The young people designed an A6 information card that could be distributed to young people in the area explaining how they could have a safe night out socialising and making them aware of ‘spiking’ and the use of ‘spikeys’ to prevent this. They designed them and created their own health and safety slogans to try and have the biggest impact on young people. Following this, 5000 cards were attached to ‘spikeys’ and put together with other useful resources inside information packs for students at Carlisle College and various Carlisle secondary schools: Trinity School, Central Academy, Morton Academy, Caldew School, Newman Catholic School and James Rennie School. Pride in North Cumbria were the lead organisation for completing the packs and distributing them.
Afterwards, the young people were given the opportunity to be interviewed by HOLLR, a social media site run by young people to encourage other young people to engage with current affairs and voice their opinions. They asked the NCS participants four ‘golden’ questions:
- How does alcohol affect our mental health?
- How does alcohol affect the body?
- What should a young person know about drink spiking?
- What can you do to support a friend or a family member who is being negatively affected by substance use?
The interviews were recorded as a series of four and edited by Soundwave West Cumbria, another charity which helps young people access music. One video is being released each week and you can watch them in full on our Facebook page as they come out – www.facebook.com/cadascumbria1
The whole project was a great success. Our Young People Worker, Jen Marrs, says:
‘the young people engaged really well and it is encouraging to see them with so much motivation throughout these difficult times. This project provided them with a focus to think about their own wellbeing and supporting other’s within their community.’
The young people also felt it was a positive experience.
‘We learned about drugs, alcohol and sexual health and sexting. It was really good as it helped us learn how to stay safe in all situations.’
‘Yes, it was interesting and useful for our future knowledge.’
We would like to thank our Young People Worker, Jen, CADAS volunteers Rob, Glen, Charlotte and Felix and the partner organisations, particularly Pam Eland from Pride in North Cumbria, Neil from Creative Lakes for printing the information cards, the team at HOLLR, Soundwave West Cumbria and of course, the young people themselves for participating so enthusiastically!