Case study

Programme leader — Alistair Wilkinson

Alistair uses the skills from his BA in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education in his role as programme leader for NCS The Challenge

How did you get your job?

I completed an application form where I had to list my experiences of working with young people, both in a residential and community setting. I then attended a four-hour group assessment where I had to do a variety of role plays and energiser exercises, as well as a one-on-one interview to assess my capability.

What's a typical day like?

My main role is to ensure that the programme runs smoothly and that the young people are learning and benefiting from it at all times. I need to ensure that it's challenging and that they're getting something out of it. A big part of my role is to manage the staff on the programme, ensuring that they are fully supported and comfortable in delivering their role. The great thing about NCS is that a day in the office could be caving in Wales, kayaking up north, working in an elderly care home doing drama, or delivering a community project in Kilburn.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Seeing the young people develop throughout the process. The people on day one who are shy and want to go home, but by the end have come out of their shell and made friends for life. It's incredible to see the change that happens in such a short space of time.

What are the challenges?

The long hours are hard but the adrenaline kicks in and the staff pull together, which makes it lots of fun.

How is your degree relevant?

My degree has taught me how to facilitate in a variety of different contexts, which is certainly relevant when I have to deliver activities with a group of 60 young people. It has helped me develop my own facilitating approach, which if I do say so myself, is quite effective on NCS.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

I adore working on NCS The Challenge and I can see myself continuing to do so for a long time. I took part in the programme myself in 2011 and this led to me studying drama at college then drama school and moving to London. I wanted to give back to The Challenge so I have worked for NCS in a variety of other roles - a youth trustee, brand ambassador, community facilitator, drama practitioner and senior mentor. Each year I keep coming back for more because the programme does work and, in my opinion, is a vital thing for 15 to 17-year-olds to do to help them on their journey to becoming themselves.

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