National Citizen Service Bill [Lords]

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 6:39 pm on 16th January 2017.

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Photo of Rosena Allin-Khan Rosena Allin-Khan Shadow Minister (Culture, Media and Sport) (Sport) 6:39 pm, 16th January 2017

First, I agree that the NCS is a wonderful programme that should be supported, as indeed Labour does. But I would not be doing my role justice and we would not be doing our role justice if we were not to ensure the best possible outcome for all NCS participants and graduates. The hon. Gentleman asks about work in my constituency, so I can tell him that I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting people who have completed the NCS. In fact, over the summer a group of young people in Tooting were holding a food drive in a local superstore as part of their social action project and I personally contributed to the food collection. [Interruption.]

Let me continue by saying that NCS develops the skills and confidence of young people, many of whom go on to graduate and work in future NCS cycles. Why should this development not lead to more young people on the board of patrons or being consulted on to inform plans and improvements? I am sure the Minister would agree about that. I wish to put on the record the fact that I support the call from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations for focus groups of young people to be brought together to inform a review of the social action element of the programme—as I said, I participated in that element in my community. These are young people who have lived these experiences, so why not capture that and learn from them directly? Does the Minister agree about that? What recommendations will be made to the NCS Trust on the inclusion of more young people in the development of NCS going forward?

Young people harness so much positivity, passion, energy and drive that we should not seek to bottle this; we should seek to ensure it has the opportunity to be expressed. NCS provides that, and providing opportunities for social action ensures it. We in this House have a responsibility to the young people in all of our constituencies to ensure that no barriers are set in place, and no opportunity is passed by to upskill them or develop their confidence. NCS should be seen as an entry point to a longer journey of social action and volunteering. To do this, we need to ensure that all aspects of NCS are high-quality, that no participant feels their experience has not been the best it could be and that the NCS focused on impact for both the participant and the community. As a starting point, NCS should lead in to future opportunities for involvement in communities. I hope today the Government can see this as a wider opportunity outside of this Bill. The increased promotion of social action and volunteering is not a negative one. My hon. Friend Rushanara Ali made an excellent point about ensuring that the legacy continues.

There are 1.8 billion young people in the world today, and we are at a peak of youth; it is estimated that at no other time will there be more young people in the world. If we do not harness their passion, creativity and drive for change now, when will we? This Bill is a good step forward in ensuring that we do that here. I just hope the Government listen to our concerns, and the concerns of those in the voluntary sector, so to ensure we can harness the potential of young people to the fullest. They are our future politicians, after all.