YOUNGSTERS were given the opportunity to impress a leading politician yesterday with their community work for the National Citizen Service.

For the last couple of weeks, students from across Swindon have been carrying out a variety of activities, culminating in them organising a range of activities to raise money for charity.

As part of a Swindon-wide visit, Brook Newmark MP, the recently appointed Minister for Civil Society, dropped in at the County Ground to meet some of the teenagers.

They had been split into groups to raise cash for a number of different charities, so the minister spoke to each one to find out more about their work. Afterwards some of the students gave musical performances.

Mr Newmark said: “As the new Minister for Civil Society it is really important that we do as much as we can to help young people.

“The NCS course is fantastic for helping them build confidence, improve their teamwork and learn how to get on with other members of our society.

“This has been about looking at social action projects to benefit local and national charities and the groups here have come up with some great ideas.

“At the end of the day young people want to get a good job and the NCS is a good thing to be able to put on CVs.”

Among the students present was 16-year-old Ben Legge of Commonweal School. He and his group are running a fete today at Christ Church to raise money for Brighter Futures.

He said: “One of the members of our team was very keen so we were happy to choose them. We have gone with a fete because it will be for the whole family. Each of us will be running a different stall.

“The NCS has been a great experience and I would easily recommend it to other people. I have made some new friends and it will be something to put on my CV.”

Throughout the day, Mr Newmark visited a number of organisations around the town including Seqol and Swindon Therapy Centre for MS.

While at the MS centre he spoke with people from Involve, an organisation which arranges for workers to help out across the town with charity work.

Involve Swindon was established ten years ago by Tony Martin, UK Volunteer manager for the Zurich Community Trust. Run by the Volunteer Centre Swindon and Voluntary Action Swindon, with annual funding from the Zurich Community Trust, Intel and Nationwide, it brings together representatives from local employers, the statutory sector and the voluntary sector to work collaboratively to share skills. Since 2004, Involve Swindon has worked with over 120 organisations and encouraged over 3,500 employees to give their time and skills to the local community.

Mr Martin said: “I am delighted that Involve Swindon celebrated 10 years this year, and we are very proud to be recognised in this way by the Prime Minister and a Big Society Award. The effective collaboration of Involve Swindon members is ensuring that skills from the private sector are being leveraged for the benefit of the local voluntary sector and Swindon communities”

Mr Newmark added: “One of the things I am most impressed with is how Swindon as a community is working together to help a variety of charities.

“It is good to see companies letting workers have time to work towards a good cause, and I think Swindon is a great example for other areas of the country.”