This year I’ve seen even more young people than ever join the (free) National Citizen Service (NCS) scheme. It’s become a rite of passage for many 16 and 17 year olds in their summer hols. What’s it all about?
The scheme was set up by David Cameron 7 years ago to provide young people of all backgrounds the chance to spend a month together, doing a great range of activities. They have a week’s adventure training – kayacking, jumping from rocks, often getting over phobias and fears in countryside they never knew existed. They have a week of meeting different organisations – community and faith groups: organisations dealing with social problems, helping the elderly or disabled, charities and social enterprises – a week of preparing a social action project of their own; and a week of doing it. Some organise Fun Fairs, dances, drama, cleaning up public spaces: you name it – mostly raising funds for a good cause.
They learn a huge amount, they see life for what it is – often difficult and messy: and become more likely to care for their area and community. And when they ‘graduate’ many have made friendships that can last for years and experiences they never forget. One parent said to me ‘this is the best thing that xx has ever done: and she said that not me. She is like a new person.’
So if you have children coming up to 16 find out more on www.ncsyes.co.uk Meanwhile there are many outdoor activities at Robinswood Hill organised by the Glos Wildlife Trust, like the night time safari. Find out more on the Robinswood Hill Facebook page.
In Quedgeley many of you, especially if near Severnvale Drive, will know all about the proposed new Clearwater Academy. I’ve asked Councillors to look carefully at what was initially proposed and what’s now proposed. Are the interests of children’s education and green space for residents adequately balanced? We need more school places, and there aren’t many sites available, but hitting that balance is important and I know your Councillors are looking at this closely.
Nationally there’s a lot more good news than either the media or the weather would suggest. Unemployment is at the lowest level since 1975, retail sales up nearly 3% since last year and manufacturing orders are at their highest since 1988. That includes some booming Gloucester businesses.
Meanwhile locally I’ve never been more positive about the pace of regeneration – from Blackfriars to Black Dog Way, St Aldates to Paul St, the new surgery in Kingsway to the new Business School at Oxstalls, another new cyber centre in the Business Park and new nursing degrees starting at the Uni of Glos. The opportunities for our children are growing fast – including in culture which has been given awards by several bodies.
This parliamentary recess I’ve been around building sites, including our new bus station and the Elmbridge Court roundabout (both on time and within budget), given several young residents work experience, played walking rugby and planted wildflower seeds. Despite the rain there’s always much to enjoy in our city, and the free fireworks were the best yet. I’m only sorry our old dog Twiglet won’t be accompanying me to deliver newspapers to your homes any more. She was though well treated by a Gloucester vet at the end.
I hope you all have a good summer.