5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before NCS | National Citizen Service ADVICE!

Head onto the official NCS website: http://www.ncsem1.org.uk/

My name is Bushra Jalil and recently I completed a whole month of adventure, challenges, new friendships and plenty of laughter with the National Citizen Service in Leicestershire.

I joined in the Summer of 2015 it was one of the best decisions I have made this year.Believe me – if you want YES to confidence, YES to meeting new people and YES to overcoming challenges and becoming the best person you can possibly be then YES to NCS is what you need!

It was genuinely more than I expected it to ever be and when I signed up less than a year ago, there were genuine fears and nerves I had, especially because I am quite an over thinker generally, and so it was quite a big step naturally for me to say YES. NCS may seem like a big challenge but now I look back I honestly don’t know what I was so worried about. In this post I will address some of the worries I had before NCS, and what I wish I knew back then.

1. You won’t be alone

The first two weeks are residential and an incredible experience. The first week involves staying at an outdoor pursuits centre, and the second is a university style experience in your home city. I was nervous, especially just before leaving but some of the major worries I had disappeared by the first day.

I felt worried and scared that I wouldn’t fit in. Would people accept me? Was I good enough? Could I spend the next four weeks with my group? But I completely forgot that these people are all on the same journey and experience as me, set to partake in the same activities and make a genuine difference.

Almost everyone felt the exact same way – even those with friends! It actually hits you as to how your mind controls you because as soon as I got onto the coach with my luggage to set off for the first week, the person behind me in the coach greeted me and, despite not being in the same group, we talked throughout NCS when we had the chance and became pretty close. I remember thinking ‘Wow, these people are too nice, it’s unbelievable’ – but it’s true! They are here for the same reasons as you are. You WILL have an amazing time, and meet people you never thought you’d speak to.

I’m not usually good at speaking to new people, but it came naturally at NCS. We are all on the same journey – embrace it! Be confident and comfortable with who you are and rock it! Be you and people will see that shine through, and making friends will be a piece of cake 😀

2. You won’t want to leave after the residential

This had not been my first residential, however it had been one of the longest. I feared beforehand that if I didn’t form friendships well (which most definitely wasn’t the case), I would be sharing rooms with people I didn’t bond with. But I honestly can’t explain how naturally friendships at NCS form, you have to see it to believe it! There is always someone who is willing to help you that you’ve never even met.

I shared a room on the first week residential with two girls from different groups and as soon as I entered the room, I felt like we’d been friends for years! You actually look forward to the nights, chatting away before bed. The vibes and spirit at NCS is just so warm and embracing, that you forget everything else and grasp it as a second home, and the people around you as family. You grow so close so quickly, that staying away from home isn’t really a major issue anymore and by the end I didn’t want to leave!

3. You can overcome anything

The first week residential away from home at an outdoor centre was definitely one of my favourite weeks, and a great way for your new team to bond though teamwork and group activities. There were things like indoor caving, abseiling, raft building, low ropes, archery and the leap of faith. This is definitely a week to face your fears and take on personal challenges!

If you’re afraid of heights for example, come to NCS with confidence and set yourself a target. For some it may be getting halfway up the rock climbing and for some it may be all the way to the top. Whatever it is, come to NCS with an open mind and don’t give up the chance to try something new, remember your whole group will support you to achieve the goals you’ve set, so you aren’t facing these things alone!

The feeling of carrying on despite the fear is something that will definitely have a lasting impression on you and will show you that you can overcome any barrier between you and your goals – something invaluable for the future.

4. Mud will wash off, but great memories will last you forever

Something I would also definitely suggest in order to really make the most of your NCS experience is DO NOT BE AFRAID OF GETTING MUDDY OR WET. This really applied to me in activities like raft building. Eventually, we all got stuck in and to my luck, I fell in the water up to my waist (not a pleasant feeling!) though now that I look back, I don’t necessarily remember the mud or the wet, but the laughter and memories made from those moments. I was clean and dry again after a quick shower, yet the memories are unforgettable.

Words of wisdom? Enjoy the moments as they come, and take it all in, because they will form the basis of your unique, once in a lifetime experience at NCS!

5. It’s a journey, not a competition

After the residential, you’ll move on to social action project fortnight, where you truly leave your mark and make a difference to the community you live in. As everyone picks their different charities from the countless ones available on the university experience week, everyone gets really excited, as you should be, to raise lots of money for their charity. However, despite everyone wanting to raise the most, it’s not a competition but an act of charity and will to give something back to your community, as well as a chance to really put into practice the skills you have learnt throughout the intense residential weeks.

You will learn valuable skills during NCS but the experience will always be unique to you, so learn from your mistakes but don’t forget to have fun with it and applaud yourself for all the incredible things you do!

These were the main worries I had before coming to NCS, it turned out I was worrying over nothing, so hopefully if you’re nervous about starting your own NCS journey this will help you. I’m so glad I didn’t let the nerves hold me back and said YES to NCS. 

Thanks for reading, hope you have the confidence to go ahead and take part in this unforgettable experience!

Don’t forget to share to potential NCSers and SUBSCRIBE 😀

Check out the official NCS blog: http://www.ncsem1.org.uk/blog/

Bushra xx


LOROS Charity Events for Leicester this week | NCS

This week, as part of NCS, our team, after a long week of planning, have started on leaving our mark and making a difference by fundraising for the LOROS Hospice, a local Leicestershire based charity. We are almost halfway through the IMG-20150810-WA0007week, and so far things are going well! I would really appreciate, on behalf of my team, if you would continue to support us through social media, and also by coming to our events!

On Monday, we did bag packing at a Tesco in Leicester, something I’d never done before! YouIMG-20150810-WA0010 (1) get the kind, the rude and the generous customers! It was very successful and we raised well over £200! Today (Tuesday), we ran a bake sale in Santander bank opposite the clock tower which was also successful! We met loads of interesting people! 😀

We would really appreciate if you did anything from sharing us and LOROS on social media, coming to one of our events or donating to our JustGiving page to help us to help the terminally ill at LOROS, a worthy cause. Find out more about what LOROS do here if you are not sure: http://www.loros.co.uk/about/about-loros/

These are the events for the upcoming week:

Wednesday 12th August: Donation for cakes, biscuits, crisps, somosas & more! 

Leicester Market and Leicester Railway Station, from 8am – 5pm

Thursday 13th August: Bake SaleIMG-20150811-WA0021

Barclays Bank, Gallowtree Gate, Leicester, from 10am – 4pm

Saturday 15th August: Summer Fete – includes bouncy castle, henna, food, music, penalty shootout, challenges, tombola with AMAZING prizes to be won, raffle and MUCH, MUCH MORE!!

Judgemeadow Community College, Marydene Dr, Leicester LE5 6HP – from 12 noon to 4pm

Donate to our JustGiving page online, don’t forget to GiftAid it! – https://www.justgiving.com/NCSAlphaFino

Follow our team’s instagram page on: @ALPHA_FINO_WAVE3

Use our hashtag #LorosForComfort to show support!

Thanks for reading, hope to see you at our events!

Bushra 😀

National Citizen Service Appeal: DONATE TO LOROS!!

As part of the National Citizen Service (NCS) in the UK, a four week intense programme for 15-17 year olds which aims to build skills for life in participants as we take part in a two week residential, work in groups – with people from all walks of life and basically build skills for life! My most recent blog posts talk about both weeks of the downloadresidentials’ in depth to demonstrate the skills we have learnt!

We have gotten to the stage where we are taking part in our social action project, in order to portray our skills and truly make a difference to the community we live in. We have chosen LOROS, a local hospice providing for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, caring for and delivering excellent, compassionate, top quality and free of charge care for terminally ill patients, their family and carers in order to relieve the stress they may feel at this overwhelming, and often difficult stage. They care for over 2500 people annually, and are only given a limited fund each year, yet it costs millions per year to run  – the rest is only possible through kind and thoughtful donations which genuinely have an impact in delivering this care.

Our group –  team 12, on wave three of NCS this year are passionate about this charity, and after a visit to the hospice, have seen upfront just how hard the team and volunteers work to provide such a high level of service and ultimate comfort to the patients, at no cost. We hope that not only the rest of our city can see this unbelievably invaluable service at their feet when they need it, but also the rest of the UK, and even global hearts who can truly help us to leave our mark and make a difference to our community!

We will be doing various fundraising events across the next two weeks such as a summer fete, donation stations and raising awareness for this great cause, so stay updated as we post my teams events for the upcoming weeks. Please help support us in this charity in any way possible – you never know when you may need such a precious service.

Also, if you are a twitter or instagram please share our campaign using the hashtag #LorosForComfort. Post an image of something you can’t live without, share our links – MAKE A DIFFERENCE! 😀

DONATE KINDLY HERE: https://www.justgiving.com/NCSAlphaFino

MORE INFORMATION ON THE CHARITY: http://www.loros.co.uk/

UPDATES ON MY TWITTER (and of course, the JustGiving page): https://twitter.com/BushraSpeaks

90p of every £1 goes directly to patient care.

full_width_image-1392114250.98.jpg.800x0_q85_upscale£5 could pay for a patients meals for a day.

£10 could pay for the collection of a patient from home for day therapy, which eases their pain at this difficult time.

£25 could pay for an hour of care for an inpatient.

£50 could pay for two aromatherapy, reflexology or massage sessions, helping to relieve a patients pain and sickness, or reduce anxiety and stress in a patient or their families/carers.

£100 could pay for one of the community nurse specialists to visit a patient in their own home, providing free care and support to patients and their loved ones.

Don’t forget to GiftAid it to stretch your donation further – we have set £250 as an initial target but we hope to raise lots more, alongside our upcoming charity events!

Thank you 😀

NCS Week 2: University Experience!

I have just come to the end of another busy and fun week at NCS! This week was our last IMG-20150730-WA0017residential week of the NCS programme and involved staying in the DeMonfort University Halls in order to give us a university style experience! The week involved lots of workshops, masterclasses and planning for our social action project for the next two weeks (where we’ll be based at home rather than as a residential) which will truly demonstrate all of the skills we’ve been working on for the past fortnight and allow us to make a positive difference to the diverse community we live in!

This week was a lot more chilled out than the last week where we were doing crazy but amazing activities such as high ropes and raft building! We focused more on self improvement skills and qualities valued in not only the competIMG-20150731-WA0019itive work field, but vital if we want to be successful in the next two weeks with our social action project! We looked at what makes us a good citizen, debates on important issues in our community, as well as a treasure hunt style activity where we got out into Leicester’s community and town centre to complete challenges such as finding shops that back charities and interviewing the public. There was also a day hosted by PepsiCo where different groups were set different challenges (ours was to think of a packaging design which could combat the disposal problem crisp packets cause) and presented them back to the PepsiCo representatives in a Dragons’ Den style mode; the winning team were given a huge hamper of PepsiCo products like Walkers crisps, porridge oats and drinks (unfortunately it wasn’t us!) The various activities and presentations from businesses across Leicester were a real eye opener to the various opportunities that lie beneath our feet! This was followed up by a careers fair on the morning of the last day, where representatives of Leicester universities/colleges, youth organizations and even the army came in to allow us to speak to them and ask questions about all of these opportunities and potential careers in the near future!

This week also focused on choosing our social action project for the next two weeks, where we are able to apply all the skills such as leadership and working in a group to practice and make our mark as that is what NCS is all about! We were able to have a 15 minute session with various charities which all want an NCS team to help them fundraise. They were all amazing, with national charities such as the Red Cross and Rainbows as well as local charities such as the Air Ambulance, LOROS, and Leicester Hospitals Trust to choose from We then had to bid for our preferred one, and we ended up with the LOROS Hospice, which provides comfort for the terminally ill. There were also masterclasses and workshops throughout the week intended to improve our skills required for the upcoming weeks such as fundraising rules, usage of social media as well as Fi20150727_180457rst Aid demonstrations from the army.

It was overall a great week with exciting events such as the Come Dine With Me style night where our flats had to cook for our team leaders to judge, as well as an end of university party at the student union! We learnt lots of skills and are ready to progress to our social action project in order to genuinely make a difference and live up to the true NCS spirit!

Look out for news on this blog of our social action project where we will fund raise for LOROS – you can make a difference too! Stay updated and don’t forget to subscribe 🙂

INSTAGRAM: @bushrajalil

TWITTER: @BushraSpeaks

Bushra x 😀


NCS: WEEK 1, at the Pioneer Centre

Last Monday, I nervously set off to begin an amazing adventure with a great bunch of people on NCS (National Citizen

20150721_184801Service), a four week intense and fun course for young people aged 15-17 which aims to improve you as a young person both physically (as we learnt on the first week of activities!) and mentally as you go through a range of tasks working with lots of different people! My first week was spent at the Pioneer Centre in Kidderminster, out in the countryside. We stayed in cabins and I have to admit the place was far more comfortable and amazing than I expected considering it felt like we were heading to nowhere as we entered the countryside! It was huge with endless activites waiting there for us, as well as a basketball court and fields. I honestly felt so nervous even though I knew a few people beforehand but as soon as I got there all my worries seemed irrelevant and I felt I fitted perfectly fine! Everyone was so nice and casual and we all clicked, as we were all on the same journey set to unravel – I even became even closer with some old primary school pals!

We tried lots of new activities and things I had always wanted to do such as archery, fencing and abseiling asIMG_20150724_193458 well as lots of things that involved heights which I naturally love – such as rock climbing, the leap of faith and high ropes! We also did lots of fun activities that were on the ground such as raft building (which got me soaked till the waist – let’s just say our raft ‘failed’!), bridge building, indoor caving and low ropes – which involved more teamwork and co-ordination which really bought our team closer together. There were also opportunities to do things as a whole wave (I was on wave three) such as a fashion show sporting recycled outfits, and a talent show where our group went all out and went Bollywood! We performed a punjabi bhangra dance! There was also a film crew who came to film us dancing to Rather Be by Clean Bandit in our special NCS Tshirts as part of TShirtour graduation video for the graduation ceremony in September to celebrate our upcoming achievements!

Overall, it was an amazing week which is not explainable in words as to how much fun and laughter we had, and despite it only being a week so far, I sense that the friends I have made are for the long term! We got muddy, wet and ill but that just demonstrated our determination and commitment to get through all the challenging and exciting activities lined up! At times it felt like we were on a military field preparing to become soldiers and at times it felt like we were at one big party! However, every moment was precious, memorable and it was honestly one of the best weeks all year so far for me at least, and a change from the dull and lifeless summer which this time last year I thought I’d have! Everyone was so helpful and down to earth and I would do it all over again! Bring on week two which is the university experience at the Demonfort University halls of residence! There will be a post describing the experience next week!

Don’t forget to FOLLOW!

Bushra 😀