Young people across the country including the North East spent their half term taking part in the NCS (National Citizen Service) Autumn Programme. Across the week, they occupied their time getting to know each other, taking part in fun activities and most importantly developing social action projects that mean something to them and their community.
Children North East were invited by Headliners, who run NCS in South Tyneside, to be one of the ‘dragons’ to listen to pitches young people had been working on, inspired by the format of the popular TV programme Dragon’s Den. To offer feedback and support with their next steps, Georgina from our Schools Team was delighted to step into the shoes of Deborah Meaden and attend. Here are some of her thoughts about the experience.
It was a pleasure and privilege to listen to the young people’s plans for their social action projects. Virtual pitching did not faze the young people in the slightest, and they talked with passion about the topics they had researched and their plans to do something about the important issues they had identified. They also managed not only to make their pitches informative, but also entertaining, incorporating some signing and even some guitar playing.
What is particularly interesting is that both groups of young people that presented are working on projects addressing food insecurity and hunger within their local communities. The first group that presented are going to undertake a sponsored walk to raise money to make hampers to be given to a local food bank. They explained in their pitch that they are planning to not only include food basics, but some recipe cards for meals and some extra items such as baking kits for families to have valuable family time together. The second group of young people described in their pitch that they are going to make hampers to be distributed to a primary school to support families in need, with younger children. The second group have agreed that the way they will achieve this will be by working with local businesses to source donations of food that can be included, and running food collections in their own schools. The young people showed a real awareness and understanding of the debates that have taken place around Free School Meal provision and hunger, led by Marcus Rashford. It must be recognised that young people are not only affected by this issue, but as the groups NCS have shown, they are also committed to working practically to do something about this.
After the presentations the group of dragons had some time to talk about the pitches and consider the feedback that we gave to the young people. We all agreed that they did a brilliant job- particularly with the challenges of presenting virtually! We gave them some hints and tips on next steps for the projects including how to promote them, which organisations they should get in touch with for donations, and things that they might need to consider such as timelines and contingency planning if COVID restrictions meant that any of their planned activities could not go ahead. The young people shared their thoughts on how they found taking part in the ‘Dragon’s Den’:
“I found the feedback useful as it provided problems we would face before beginning the project” – Ethan
“I liked the feedback as it helped us improve our projects” – Katie
“I do business and it helps me understand how to present a piece of work similar to what you do within jobs. It helped me develop team skills as we worked as a team to create the presentation” – Eve
“It was entertaining and valuable getting teamwork experience as well as learning how to improve presentation skills” – Lamar
It was really great to be a ‘dragon’ for the morning. In spite of all the challenges that 2020 and the pandemic has thrown up our young people continue to show resilience, creativity, and an unwavering enthusiasm to make a difference to their communities. With all of the current uncertainty it is vital that opportunities for our young people to be heard, and make a positive contribution to issues that matter to them, are protected.