On Friday morning our Chairman, Bob Leach and I visited a nature reserve in Worcestershire, to see 15 -17 year olds on our NCS (National Citizen Service) contract, which our teams are delivering across the West Midlands.
The young people were tasked with building bird and bat boxes - with the help and guidance of the fabulous Worcester Roots Foundation - and were being filmed by BBC Springwatch. It was incredible to see the teamwork in action, from a group of people that were thrown together on a residential course on Tuesday, to a team of people that helped each other. I was chatting to a number of the students, with one of them saying that she felt "alive" breathing in the fresh air. In fact, she said they should bottle it and send to the cities so they can get to know what it feels like!
Another student who said very openly to me, I may have glasses, I may have hearing aids, I may not be the best looking here but I have loved every minute of it, people have cared for me, helped me and made me feel part of the team. This student wants a job doing anything with trains so I gave him some advice - follow your dreams!
Our delivery of NCS in the spring means 200 young people get an amazing experience; in the summer it's three thousand, with another thousand in the autumn.
From what I have seen this has been an amazing experience for the 200 students. We owe it to ourselves to get into as many schools and colleges as we can, in front of as many students as we can, signing them up to our summer programme so that they can have the same experience.
It's a huge priority for our government and I am so proud that we are part of this. Our aim is to become the biggest and best provider of the National Citizenship Service.