PRIME Minister David Cameron has spoken of his delight as the Big Society comes to Leeds in the shape of more volunteering opportunities for young people.
Charities Catch 22 and v, which provide volunteering opportunities and support for young people, are making available 75 places for Leeds youngsters to take part in the new Government-backed National Citizen Service (NCS).
The initiative includes summer residential programmes and will give young people – mostly 16-year-olds – the chance to take part in a range of activities, develop new skills and take part in schemes that benefit their communities.
As NCS was launched, Mr Cameron said: “I am delighted that Catch 22 and v the National Young Volunteers Service will provide 75 places for teenagers in Leeds to serve their communities.
“Why am I so passionate about this? Well, to begin with, because it’s going to make a massive difference to so many lives.
“There is in our country the most tragic waste of potential. Today’s teenagers are as passionate and idealistic as generations before, but they don’t always get the opportunity to demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment. NCS will give them something to aspire to, some more responsibility, more pride in themselves and what they can do.
“But more than that, this is going to make a massive difference to our country. In the years ahead, I want us to build a Big Society together. That’s a society where people don’t always look to the Government for answers, but feel free and powerful enough to come together and work together to make things around them better.
“An important part of that is each of us doing more and contributing to our community. NCS will go a long way in instilling that ethic of duty in our teenagers. They’re the adults of tomorrow, so it’s right we give them more responsibility today.
“I know that some people say the Big Society is a cover for cuts. That’s nonsense. Sadly, cuts in spending would be happening whoever was in government. The question is – are we going to take steps to make our society stronger at the same time? To me, the answer is obvious – we must.
“We are actively taking steps to help build a bigger, stronger society and NCS is a critical part of this approach.”
For more information visit www.catch-22.org.uk/NCS or www.vinspired.com.