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Summer of a Lifetime














Photo: NCS Summer of a Lifetime 2012 

The ‘Summer of a Lifetime’ programme was part of the government’s National Citizen Service (NCS) 2011/12 pilot for (at that time) 16 year olds (or older young people in exceptional circumstances).

Building on our excellent work in delivering ‘vinvolved Leeds’ 2008-2011, Learning Partnerships was pleased and privileged to receive funding to run the NCS Summer of a Lifetime programme in Leeds.

We were approached by vinspired, the National Young Volunteers Service, to be part of their consortium with the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust, and agencies from vinspired’s national network of voluntary sector, Local Authority organisations and Further Education Colleges. 

The National Citizen Service is a Big Society initiative, supporting young people from all backgrounds to work together, take on new challenges and make a difference in local communities. It is a voluntary programme for 16 year olds (now for 15/16/17 year olds) and includes fun and challenging activities, away from home residential experiences and a self-designed social action project.

The programme aims to promote a more cohesive, responsible and engaged society by bringing young people from different backgrounds together to make a difference in their communities.

The NCS programme gives participants the opportunity to:

  • Take part in a 4-6 week personal and social development programme
  • Meet new people from different areas and make new friends
  • Learn new skills and develop existing skills – outdoor activities, team building, working as a team, inter-personal skills, project management, leadership to name but a few
  • Improve confidence and self esteem
  • Take part in fun, challenging activities during the summer
  • Make a difference through volunteering and social action    








Photo: Summer of a Lifetime 2011

Twelve NCS pilot projects ran across England during summer 2011 and over 8,000 spaces were taken up.

In 2012 we supported 52 young people to complete the whole programme over six weeks by attending two action packed residentials, and delivering successful social action projects in the community.

Some quotes from participants:

  • It's literally been a summer of a lifetime.”
  • “I have gained the skills to try new things and give them a go and I’ve also learnt to be less judgemental and just give everything and anyone a chance.”
  • “The volunteering was my biggest achievement, I started off thinking it would be the most boring bit but it’s turned out to be one of the most positive things in my whole experience.”
  • “Charlotte has been so full of beans about her fantastic 'Summer of a Lifetime' experience, to say that she loved every minute is an understatement.  We wanted to drop you a line to say a very big thank you to you and all those involved in making this happen for Charlotte and all those great young people she met.”

Social action projects included transforming an unloved urban space into a communal space for local residents, and a mural at the Denis Healy in East Leeds which was designed in consultation with centre users. The Centre manager said of the mural: “This is one of the best things to have happened here in a long time.”

Since 2013, following the highly successful delivery of our 2011/12 NCS pilot, Learning Partnerships has supported Leeds City Council in their planning and delivery of their own NCS programme.

Learning Partnerships is a registered charity, number 1003603