A Leeds Trinity University student has played a pivotal role in transforming the lives of young people in West Yorkshire, in his position as Senior Mentor at the National Citizen Service (NCS).
John Strongman, who is a final year Psychology student from Wakefield, works at the NCS during holiday periods, delivering a programme for vulnerable young people, aged 15 to 17.
Using the skills and knowledge he has acquired from his Psychology degree, John has been a huge success in his Senior Mentor role, and has brought a lot of value to the programme and the teenagers under his supervision.
Bradley Elliot, Programme Leader at NCS, hopes John will continue his great work and progress further through the organisation. He said:
"John has been fantastic during his time at the NCS and has played a key role in the life-changing experience that many of the participants have had on the programme. He adds a lot of value to what NCS offers, through both the knowledge he has gained from his Psychology degree, and also through his personality – he's been a really supportive and encouraging figure for so many participants and staff on the programme."
John started his position as Senior Mentor last summer, and was in charge of delivering a six week programme to 12 teenagers from the local area. The programme aims to build skills for work and foster independent living skills, as the young people tackle new challenges and partake in a range of community and charity work.
"NCS has been one of the best things I've ever done! To see the change that the programme made to their lives in such a short space of time was incredible," said John.
"I did have some experiences that were challenging, or perhaps a little scary but I never once thought of walking away from the job. To me it was important to acknowledge that these young people came from all walks of life and would have had very different upbringings and perspectives on life before they came to the NCS.
"What the NCS does brilliantly, is challenge young people and their ideas, and I'm very proud to have played a part in this process."
The programme starts out with lots of physical activities and team challenges, before the young people start to work with local charities and community partners in the latter weeks.
Whilst John's main responsibility is the safety and wellbeing of his participants, he is also there to support them and help them conquer any fears or challenges they had. He has overseen a number of residential trips with his group, including a two day 25km hike up in Scotland.
Following his work last summer, John was awarded the Community Impact Award at last year's Leeds Specialist Institution Awards, and he now plans to return to the NCS in September as an Assistant Programme Leader.