To help you learn more about Groundwork’s NCS programme, we have answered some of the most common questions that both parents and young people ask. If you have any questions that have not been answered here, please don’t hesitate to contact us

My child has additional needs, can he/she still attend?


All young people are welcome on all programmes. Our staff are trained and experienced at working with young people with additional needs. However, we do understand that some young people may feel more comfortable on a tailored trip. 

Our Easter programme is specially designed for young people with additional needs. This includes a higher staff ratio and a dedicated Special Educational Needs Coordinating Officer.

We welcome discussions about your child’s particular needs so that we can provide the necessary support and understanding.

If your son/daughter has an additional needs that has held them back in school, they will be able to attend the programme even if they are over 18 (maximum age is 24). 

I’m not the right age but can I still come on NCS?


NCS is not open to young people who are either younger or older than the specified ages. These ages depend on which programme you are planning to attend.

In Autumn and Spring, you must be the age of a student in either Y12 or Y13. In Summer you must be the age of a student in either Y11 or Y12.  If you are too young but still interested, you can fill out an interest form anyway so you have the information you need for when you’re old enough.

Those who are aged between 18 and 24 may be eligible if they have an identified special educational need that has held them back in school. 

Is everything included?


Yes! NCS is funded mainly by the government but we do ask for a parental contribution in most cases (£35 for autumn/spring and £50 for summer). It costs the government over £1000 for each place and this covers food for the residential, transport to and from the residential sites and all workshops.

You will still need to ensure your child is dropped off or able to travel alone to the relevant drop-off point (usually the bus station in Sheffield city centre) for the residential trips. During social action, young people are expected to make their own way to and from the city centre and provide their own food.

My child gets free school meals, is there any discount for me?


Yes. If your child is eligible for free school meals, we can assist with a bursary to cover the cost of the parental contribution. Just mention this when signing up and the team will take you through the necessary process. 

My child is a Muslim and I am worried about him/her observing their faith when away from home.


We work closely with a number of Islamic schools to ensure that NCS is appropriate for those observing Islam. We accommodate this in the following ways:

  • At least one programme in the summer will always be after Eid to avoid young people fasting whilst away from home.
  • Halal and vegetarian food is available at all residential sites
  • Prayer room facilities can be arranged at all residential sites
  • Where numbers allow, we provide all-girl teams with a female Muslim member of staff as the team leader
  • On all trips, male and female participants sleep in separate accommodation

I’m worried about staying away from home, what shall I do?


This is probably one of the biggest worries people have before coming on NCS. Staying away from home is definitely a challenge for many people. However, part of the programme is about challenging yourself.

In the future, you may leave home for university or for work and it’s important that you have the right skills to do this. Staying away from home for a few nights on NCS will allow you to practice this skill in a safe environment with staff who will be on hand should anything worry you.

I have a medical condition/special dietary requirements, can I still come?


Yes. NCS is open to everyone and we will do whatever we can to cater to your requirements. Please note that it is important that you provide us with this information as soon as possible to ensure we have time to put the necessary arrangements in place. 

I’m scared of heights/water, do I have to do anything I don’t want to?


NCS is all about trying things that might scare you a little bit. Therefore, our staff will encourage participants to try their best. Teams form very strong bonds during the programme and it is amazing what gentle encouragement and support from peers can achieve.

However, no one would ever be pressured or forced into doing something they didn’t want to do. If a participant has a fear that cannot be overcome, they will be supported by staff and their team to sit by the side and watch. 

I don’t know anyone else who is going on the trip and I’m scared of being alone.


A lot of people come to NCS on their own and their experience is good, if not better!  Teams form very strong bonds from the beginning and those who come alone often end up with lots of new friends!

Most of our previous participants say that the first meeting is a bit nerve-wracking but after that, they feel as if they have known each other for years!

Can I be in a team with my friends?


We do allow participants to be in the same team as some of their friends. However, if there is a large group of friends, we will split this over a couple of teams so that everyone still has a chance to make new friends.

What health and safety measures are taken for this trip?


All staff are fully trained on residential work and safeguarding. All staff have passed an enhanced DBS check. Senior staff and most junior staff have first aid training and all Carlton Lodge activity centre staff are fully first aid trained and DBS checked.

Male and female participants sleep in separate accommodation blocks and are forbidden from entering each other’s rooms.

Groundwork employs two 24-hour external safeguarding experts who are on hand at any point to assist our staff with safeguarding issues.

We ask you for more than one emergency contact so that if anything happens during the trip, we are able to contact someone at home straight away.

Risk assessments are carried out for all stages of the trip and individual risk assessments are carried out in conjunction with parents/guardians for any young people who are deemed particularly vulnerable. 

My child can’t swim. Can they still come?


In order to take part in water activities we require an additional consent from a parent or guardian.

Carlton Lodge requires that all participants wear a helmet and buoyancy aid in order to take part. This means that if your child cannot swim but would like to take part, he/she can take part in the water activities if comfortable to do so.

Please note: if a parent/guardian has not ticked the box to say they are happy for their child to take part in water activities, we cannot allow them to take part. Therefore, if you are happy for them to take part but your child is uncertain, please tick the box. Your child can always decline to take part on the day but this is better than them wanting to take part but not being allowed to.  

Where will my child be staying on the residential parts of the trip?


We use an outdoor activity centre in Thirsk called Carlton Lodge. You can find out more about them on their website here.

Can I bring my phone, tablet, games console, laptop etc.?


Please note that any items brought on an NCS trip are done so at your own risk. We do not advise that participants bring anything more than a mobile phone, if they feel that this is necessary.

Will NCS count towards my Duke of Edinburgh award?


The social action volunteering part of NCS can count towards your volunteering hours for the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.

In summer, due to the length of the residential, NCS can also count towards the residential part of the Gold award.

Please note that in order for NCS to be used towards any DofE award, you should consult your Duke of Edinburgh leader and also ensure you are registered with DofE for plenty of time before NCS. For more details, look here: dofe.org

Are male and female participants mixed?


An important part of NCS is about social mixing and getting to know others. Therefore, teams will normally include an even balance of genders.

However, due to increased demand, we do now offer female only teams for some of our summer programmes.

Please note that accommodation is never mixed on any of our programmes. Male and female participants are only ever permitted to socialise in communal areas and are not allowed to visit each other’s accommodation.

What if I need to miss some parts of NCS?


NCS is best when the full programme is completed and we therefore encourage participants to avoid any absences. However, where this is unavoidable, we ask the following:

1. Try to move onto a different programme where you will not need to miss any time.

2. Any time taken off will need to be made up by volunteering in order for the participant to graduate.

3. Parents/guardians are responsible for any travel arrangements relating to the absence.

4. In the summer, participants may go and collect their exam results but will be asked to make up the time they have missed in order to graduate.

Please note that where a sufficient number of hours have not been completed, it may result in the participant not graduating.

Where this is a result of illness, bereavement or other issues, please consult a member of staff to talk about specific circumstances. 

I’ve seen some former participants working on NCS. How can I do this?


As part of our graduate programme, we offer NCS graduates the opportunity to volunteer as mentors on future NCS programmes. You will be assigned to a team with an experienced Team Leader and you will receive full training. Expenses are also paid to ensure you are not out of pocket.

Volunteer vacancies are fun, rewarding but also very hard work. The position is only offered to the most responsible and committed graduates. Many of our volunteers have gone on to paid work and apprenticeships within NCS.

These vacancies will be advertised on our website and also at graduation ceremonies.

Can I bring alcohol, drugs or legal highs on the NCS programme?


We have a strict policy of no alcohol, drugs or legal highs. Please note that where illegal activity takes place (alcohol consumption and illegal drugs) we may have to call the police.

Anyone found with drugs or alcohol will at the very least be removed from the programme and their parent/guardian asked to come and collect them.

Can I smoke on the NCS programme?


If a participant is 16, they may bring cigarettes with them. However, they will not be permitted to buy cigarettes whilst on the programme, due to the legal age for buying cigarettes being 18.

Anyone smoking on the programme should only do so in designated areas and at designated times. 

Why do I need to drop my bag off before the programme starts?


It is compulsory that all participants drop off their main suitcase/bag before the start of the programme. Details of this will be sent to you in plenty of time.

The location for bag drop off is Hallam House, 113 Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NT.

The reason we ask you to drop off your bags is because on the morning of the first day, we meet at a busy bus interchange and have limited time to get everyone on the coach. To make the process smoother, we load all bags onto the coach early in the morning, before the coach picks up the participants.

Please note that you are welcome to bring another bag on the day.

I’m on holiday when I’m meant to drop my bag off. What shall I do?


If you cannot make the bag drop off due to a holiday, please inform us of this so we can make appropriate arrangements. 

Where do we meet on the first day?


The coach will leave from Stand E6 at Sheffield Interchange. You will need to arrive at 9.30am. Please note that this is the bus station in the city centre and not the Meadowhall Interchange.

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