Case Study

Natalie’s NCS knees-up

21 Nov 2023
Attending her residential week away on crutches wasn’t the ideal start to Natalie’s National Citizen Service (NCS) five-day adventure. Yet thanks to her Ingeus group leaders taking steps to ensure she maxed her visit, not even a nagging knee injury could stop Natalie feeling ‘the happiest I’ve been in years’.

Based at the Kingswood Dearne Valley residential and outdoor activity centre near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, Natalie’s ‘Boss It’ NCS week in July was a masterclass in learning new skills in fun, inventive ways. From team, raft and buggy building to political debates, creative catwalk creations, and camp-fire sing-alongs, she learnt the fundamentals of business pitching, planning, and pricing which she hopes to use to establish her own affordable drama school in the future. Along with new-found NCS friends she also plans to establish a charity, Envision, which will provide longed-for holidays for older people. 

The Boss It experience is one of three new NCS themes, designed to give 16 and 17 year olds confidence-boosting life and career training, while spending four supervised nights away from home. Delivered by Ingeus and its partners across England on behalf of the NCS Trust, it is a defining and pivotal part of many young people’s transitions from senior school.

Struggling with longstanding anxiety, Natalie was excited yet nervous about her first stay away without family. She needn’t have worried…

“The leaders were absolutely amazing,” says 16 year-old Natalie, who lives in Durham and has a slow to heal dislocated knee. “The leaders adapted activities for me to take part, made me laugh when I needed it, and helped transport me around to ease walking on my knee.

“Everyone was so supportive; they became a second family. The leaders helped me when I felt panicked, they always listened, and gave me some new coping mechanisms to help my mental health. I felt so happy there, I cried a lot leaving, but we have a group chat to stay in touch with the friends I made.”

Now a performing arts student at New College in Durham, Natalie says NCS has improved her communication skills and given her confidence in facing new people and places. It also honed her leadership skills – which were in high demand as the only young person in her group with a business studies GCSE. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Boss It trip and wish it hadn’t ended so soon,” concludes Natalie, who is already encouraging her younger brother to try NCS. “I will never forget how amazing the five days away were – it changed my life. I’d love to be an NCS leader in the future and help other young people the way it helped me.” 

NCS | Grow Your Strengths | National Citizen Service (

Watch Natalie's story


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