Blog: NCS grad Rob Austin – 3 years on and still saying YES


20 Jul 2015

If it weren’t for me saying yes to National Citizen Service back in 2012, three years ago, I wouldn’t have a direction in life. I wouldn’t be the person I am today. During my final year at secondary school I could see compulsory education was coming to an end for me and I didn’t know what to do with my life –  did I stay on or  find myself a job instead?

Back in May 2012, NCS came to school to talk to us about this program that would be ‘a summer of a lifetime’, I was sitting with major doubts about this programme but I wanted to know more. It feels like yesterday when I decided to sign up to receive more information about NCS along with my twin brother – it’s hard to believe how fast the time has gone.

I found my time at secondary school quite hard, I got bullied in the first 2 years which had a negative impact on my confidence levels, leading me to struggle to make new friends, speak to my peers during group activities or speak in front of a large audience. When NCS came to school to talk to us I was told that the program improves confidence so that was the main reason why I signed up to the program – to see if I could ever be a confident person… that, and being away from my parents for a short time.

Before I knew it I was starting the program. When the morning arrived I was very excited to get started. I went to sign in, got asked my name and was told what group I was in. I waited a while for my brother to come and follow me but when I overheard that he was in a different group I felt like giving up. I felt like I didn’t want to do the program and I wanted to go home. I looked out the window and saw my Dad’s car pull away and I thought to myself that I’d give it a short while before I call Dad to pick me back up. As I waited for other group members to arrive I kept looking for faces I knew… I knew no one.

But then something inside me clicked at that moment and I made the decision to stick it out and give it a try. I thought, “It’s my summer, it’s my time to shine, stand out and do something different.” Within the first couple of hours I felt like I knew everyone in my group.  We developed a bond really quickly between all of us that became really strong.

I took every opportunity that came to me and tried my best. During NCS I learnt many skills that I wouldn’t have learnt within a class room. The main skill I learnt was probably time management.

The program flew by, before I knew it I had finished the program and had gained huge amounts of confidence. I was even standing up and giving a talk about NCS to my whole year group.

Without my saying ‘Yes’ back in 2012, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Since NCS I have kept involved with the program by volunteering on other NCS programs. When NCS was finished I also wanted to give back to the community so I set up my own social action project called Teenwise to help break negative stereotypes that teens are known for by publishing positive youth stories. Teenwise was set up in late in 2012 and it has gone from strength from strength (it’s now a website at www.teenwise.org.uk ). I’m proud that my dedication to volunteering has been recognised and at the start of this year I was asked to meet Prince Charles and tell him about NCS.

Without NCS I wouldn’t have found my true self.