We should be getting ready for the tragic and solemn occasion of the end of the NCS programme, probably by the end of 2018. For, now that the governments flagship programme for young people has been subject to ‘efficiency savings’ in the last three months, been requested that the narked off voluntary sector support it and signpost young people to it. Today it has been announced that the drastically underfunded local councils are being asked to support it, in again directing young people to it. So, council youth workers, who have had to scrimp and scrap to find work since the governments decimation of youth services ( via local funding under allocation of funding), now are now tasked with inheriting a responsibility for a government programme that was initiated as a replacement for youth services in the first place.
I guess it is only one step away from local council having to directly fund the NCS programme. Thats local councils who are happy to plead to national government for rebates for social and elderly care. But do that for provision for young people. Unlikely. And Im not sure there’s a great energy in the country to invest in young people via local council funding, weekly bin collections might be at risk. (A daily mail recurrence). Theyve already had extra, any for NCS might be extra. But oh look, NCS might be in the ‘statutory’ funding category. As important as schools? – really?
So, if local councils have no funding for youth work, and are now not far off taking on NCS, ‘the governments flagship, expensive, £50 per student, 2 week ‘confidence building experience’ for young people- programme’. Then start booking the halls, medals and services for the sad ending of NCS. For anything that overpriced, that under subscribed, that badly organised, that in need of sales staff to recruit young people (still being recruited here: https://www.vonne.org.uk/jobs/customer-service-advisers-3727, if you want a job selling a programme on commission to young people) that subjected to efficiency savings. Is about to have its plug pulled. If we as youthworkers dont commemorate its closure, then its fairly likely that its 4 year tenure is barely going to register in national significance for national mourning. Save a few young people who enjoyed and had a fun time, a few communities that had a few projects start, and a few parents who paod £50 for their kids to have a cheap holiday. But no national outcry, no pleas or marches. No, another neo liberal project that commodified and targetted young people by politicians who have no idea about young people, youth work or community education, young peoples needs, gifts or possibilities – a project with only enforced take up, and limited results, ending without whimper.
Now i may be wrong on this, and theres time for a dramatic comeback. But theres a hammer already starting to knock in the nails to the coffin that is NCS. Its time was never here, before it was already over. Next time government, and local government, treasure what you already had, invest in it, believe that youth workers might know how to help young people flourish, not programmes, but spaces of interaction, and where young people are the focus, not the boxes that other people tick that try and ‘show progression’ or outcomes.
There might be a few hundred young people with fond memories of being on NCS, though in the future most of them can d a programme at the local YMCA, princes trust, or something else. Private charities already provide this thing. The pending downfall of NCS, might it is hoped cause government and local government to prioritise the youthwork provision that once was. Much of which helped with many of the issues that young people are showing in greater abundance than before, such as mental health, exercise and social interaction – all helped by being involved in local community groups and social groups, and being involved in voluntary play and activity and learning.
Its a long shot, and less certain than the pending termination of NCS. Going but not forgotten. Not forgotten by those whose jobs and careers it brought to an end. Not forgotten by the many who see it as a flagship of neo liberal and economic capability that directs youth work provision by successive governments. Many who are in the ‘we told you so’ camp. Sound the last call, and the final trumpet. The smell of death is stenching around NCS.
A follow up to this post, ‘we shouldnt knock ncs, its the best thing this government has done for young people’ is at the following : click here