David Cameron has announced that a Conservative Government will set up a National Citizen Service – non-military national service – for 16 year-olds.
National Citizen Service (NCS) will be a two month summer programme for 16-year olds, involving both residential and at-home components. It will be delivered by independent charities, social enterprises and businesses.
"I'm so excited about what we’re setting out today", Cameron said. "It’s been a long time in development – a lot of time and effort has gone into making it a reality – and I think it will be one of the proudest legacies of a future Conservative government".
A Conservative government will set for itself this ambitious goal: that over time, all 16 year-olds will take part in NCS. We want NCS to be a rite of passage for all sixteen year olds in Britain, and a shared experience that will bring young people from different backgrounds together. NCS will promote social mixing, help the transition to adulthood and promote community engagement.
The Conservative Party has been developing these plans for the past four and half years, and even while in opposition we have helped raise £2 million for, and worked with, independent charities and social enterprises to run pilot programmes in London, Wales and North West in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Speaking at his first press conference of the election campaign, where he was joined by actor Michael Caine, David Cameron described what the NCS is about:
"We must give young people more to aspire to. More shape to their lives. More responsibility. More pride in themselves and what they can do. And we must all come together to do more about the national scandal of all this wasted promise. We owe it to the next generations."
Outlining how it would work, he said it was "a kind of non-military national service – a two-month programme for sixteen year-olds to come together in common purpose".
"It’s going to mix young people from different backgrounds, different ethnicities and religions, in a way that doesn’t happen right now. It’s going to teach them what it means to be socially responsible by asking them to serve their communities."
"Above all it’s going to help a generation of young people to appreciate what they can achieve. For themselves, and by themselves. Gandhi put it beautifully, as he did so often: ‘the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
He added that these plans are a central part of the Conservative vision for a Big Society. "Our ambition is that over time, every sixteen year old will take part. That’s hundreds of thousands of teenagers – year in, year out – volunteering, playing their part, making a difference", he said.
"This is about sowing the seeds of the Big Society – and seeing them thrive in the years to come."
You can read more about our plans for a National Citizen Service in the document reader below, or alternatively click here to download a copy in PDF format.