Hundreds of young people from our local secondary schools are spending four weeks of their summer holiday taking part in the country’s fastest-growing youth movement, National Citizen Service.
NCS has become a rite of passage for teenagers aged 15-17 to discover who they are and what they can do. The four week programme, which rolls out in 'waves' across the summer takes the youngsters on an adventurous residential week away, with activities including raft building, high ropes or archery. A second residential week follows in festival-style, giving health and lifestyle advice alongside creative challenges and music events.
Then its back to the home base for two weeks of hard work creating a social action project which makes a difference in the loca community. That's where I caught up with young people from all the Brentwood secondary schools, as they planned events to tackle loneliness amongst older people, and raised funds by running a cake stall.
My visit to the Brentwood NCS project is becoming an annual event, and I can see how much the youngsters benefit from this time away from their usual lives, making friends and accepting some exciting new challenges. I wish this wave well, and all the bet to the others who will take part in the scheme over the next few weeks.