NCS to move to year-round offer to cut costs, chief executive confirms

Fiona Simpson
Friday, May 14, 2021

The National Citizen Service (NCS) is set to move to a year-round offering in a bid to target more young people and cut costs, the organisation's chief executive has revealed.

Mark Gifford is chief executive of the NCS Trust. Picture: NCS Trust
Mark Gifford is chief executive of the NCS Trust. Picture: NCS Trust

In an interview with CYP Now, Mark Gifford, who joined the NCS Trust in January 2020, shared plans for a “transformative agenda” for the organisation, which was founded by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2009. 

The Trust, which traditionally provides summer residential programmes for young people aged 15- to 17 in England, was forced to cancel its 2020 offering due to the pandemic.

However, Gifford told CYP Now that this allowed the Trust to “pilot some of the things we are really wanting to do” which includes a year-round offering for young people including work in the community, digital support on issues including mental health and resilience and a residential programme as well as increased intervention before and after the programme ends for the most vulnerable children.

Gifford said he was brought in to the NCS Trust from his position as a director at Waitrose and Partners to introduce a “transformative agenda”.

He added: “Young people want more choice of what they get from the programme.

“I want to do some things digitally, that’s more democratic and empowering for young people. I was very mindful that the programme in itself is really powerful but you need to have, for some young people, a run off - how do you prepare them for this intervention and how do we support them afterwards.

“We’re coming from a moment to a movement - a different portfolio of experiences and that’s what we experimented with in 2020,” he said.

Gifford also told CYP Now that the NCS’s bid for funding from the next Spending Review will be “significantly lower” than the £158m recently granted to the organisation in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s most recent budget.

Meanwhile, the organisation's most recent annual report showed NCS had paid out accommodation costs of £3.4m to 44 accommodation venues for its 2020 summer programme which was later cancelled.

“I was also brought in to cut costs,” he said, “and we have done this through cutting head office costs. The next thing is to look at the offer and by shifting that traditional focus on the residential to a more year-round project we are able to do that on a much lower budget.”

The future of the NCS Trust will be laid out in a review of youth work currently being carried out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is set to be published shortly, Gifford added.

  • For a full interview with the NCS chief executive see June’s edition of CYP Now.

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