Boris Johnson MP shows his support for National Citizen Service teens in Hillingdon 

Boris Johnson, MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, met with a group of 15-17-year-olds taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme in Hillingdon on Thursday 2 August.

Run in Hillingdon by The Challenge, NCS brings together young people from different backgrounds for a unique shared experience of adventure activities, learning new skills, and contributing to their local community. The government-backed programme aims to create a stronger and more cohesive society by helping young people to become more well-rounded individuals and in turn better citizens.

Boris Johnson MP visited a group of 60 participants at Uxbridge College during the second phase of the programme, which focuses on improving their public speaking skills and giving speeches to their peers on topics they feel passionate about. The former foreign secretary chatted to the teenagers to hear about their experiences with NCS and their motivations for taking part. He then answered questions from the group including why he became an MP and what he thinks about the impact of social media on young people.

Boris Johnson MP said: “It’s always fantastic to see young people engaging in the local community and the groups I met today have chosen some very worthwhile causes to champion. NCS is a great way for young people to learn invaluable skills for the future whilst raising awareness and funds for local community groups. I wish everyone taking part this summer the best of luck with their campaigns!”

Richard Bell, head of public affairs, policy and research at The Challenge, said:  "We're really grateful to Boris Johnson for visiting the programme, and giving our young people such valuable top tips on public speaking. We hope he enjoyed the visit - he seemed to gain a real sense of the important contribution the programme makes to our young people."

Over 600 young people have signed up to take part in NCS in Hillingdon this summer. The adventure kicks off with a week of outdoor activities, such as raft building, hiking, and bushcraft, to help build trust and create bonds. During the second week, as well as developing their public speaking skills, the young people visit local partners, including Age UK, Care UK, Franklin House and Harlington Hospice, to learn about community projects in their area and get a better sense of other people’s perspectives.

The final phase of the programme is built around the young people designing and delivering a social action project to fundraise, volunteer and campaign to support their local charities and community. So far this summer over £4,200 has been raised for local charities in the Hillingdon area.

Research by The Challenge and Oxford University’s Centre for the Study of Intergroup Conflict found that half the young people who took part in NCS in last year planned to continue volunteering to help their local community, while a third felt more empowered to make a difference.

They also found that following their experience with NCS, young people had an increase in understanding, empathy, respect and better connections with people they would ordinarily have judged as different.

Naria McClune, a young Londoner currently taking part in NCS, says: “I’m loving the NCS experience. You talk to new people about different topics which help you to relate to each other. Making friends feels natural and my confidence has definitely grown. Don’t hesitate to sign up. You won’t regret it and it will stop your summer from being boring. Just do it!”

Last minute places are available for 15 to 17-year-olds to take part in NCS this August. At just £50 for the two to four week programme including accommodation, activities and food, NCS is an affordable way for young people to have an eye-opening and exciting summer experience. Go to ncsthechallenge.org or call 020 3510 5050 to sign up.