You’ve been telling us that you want to know more about the people who work with and for The Challenge  – from young people to community partners to colleges and schools.

Young people and staff from Wigan Youth Zone enjoying the autumn NCS programme

During 2018, we have been working with several new delivery partners across the country so this week we turned our attention to one of our newest local delivery partners, Wigan Youth Zone. Youth work manager Sikander Ali took time out to tell us more about the youth organisation, which operates in the north-west.

When did you first become involved with NCS and The Challenge? Wigan Youth Zone first got involved with NCS and The Challenge partnership for this autumn and we’ve been working on the relationship since June 2018.

How do you feel about being one of our NCS providers? How does partnering with The Challenge to deliver NCS benefit your organisation? We are really excited about partnering with a national organisation like The Challenge, which is a reputable organisation and a leading provider for NCS. It gives us another aspect to our universal youth work provision, helps us enhance our relationships with our young people and take them on a journey.

What do you think the benefits are for young people who participate in an NCS programme? We recruited young people from Wigan Youth Zone only for this programme. Some of the young people we recruited visited us just for set sessions such as hockey in the sports hall or our employability programme. NCS has, however, helped us get them more involved in our universal provision and already we are seeing them coming out of their comfort zone and getting more involved in what we can offer them.

Tell us about your experience over autumn? The autumn programme was great. We visited Kingswood Colomendy in north Wales and for 70 per cent of young people in our group, this was the first time they’d been on a visit to somewhere outside Wigan.

Even though we’ve worked with these young people through our club before, we learnt a lot about them because by taking them out of our usual environment and comfort zone, it helped all of us establish better relationships. I’m sure Steve Ball in the LDP team will be the first to buy our young people’s virtual headphones as they pitched this to him as part of the discovery phase Dragons’ Den challenge.

What was your highlight or biggest surprise? The biggest surprise was how well the group integrated. We had some loud and vocal young people as well as those with additional needs and ADHD so the staff did extremely well to create great team dynamics.

Did you feel supported by The Challenge staff throughout your programme? How so? As we had such a short time to recruit, deliver and learn the systems, I think we were well supported in that period. The LDP team was always on the other end of the phone and whenever we had a problem, say where someone’s details were duplicated, then we worked with the team to sort it out and everyone was always helpful.

What would you say to another provider who was considering delivering NCS? I would really encourage other providers to come on board with NCS as it is a life-changing programme for young people and it really is a chance for young people to make memories.

You can find out more about Wigan Youth Zone at their website or follow them on Twitter.

Monday 19 November, 2018