PM asks school leavers to volunteer

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David Cameron is seeking to recruit school leavers in Sheffield to his Big Society with a call for them to sign up to a volunteering scheme this summer.

The Prime Minister will use Facebook to urge youngsters around the region to register for one of 12 pilots of the Government’s new National Citizen Service programme.

Participants will go on a two-week trip to build teamwork and leadership skills before returning to their communities and working on a five-week project to improve their areas.

The scheme is a central plank of Mr Cameron’s vision of a Big Society of civic engagement and volunteering and will take place in a number of cities around the UK, including Bradford and Hull.

The Prime Minister has been seeking to breathe new life into the idea this week, taking on criticism that it is “too vague” and insisting it is part of his “mission” in politics.

Mr Cameron will take his message to school-leavers on a new Facebook page to promote the National Citizen Service. In it, he will say: “I want National Citizen Service to inspire you to realise what you can achieve.

“This summer you will be able to spend two months mixing with other young people, learning new skills, and putting something back into your community.”

The Prime Minister wants to dramatically increase the number of places on the scheme, with 30,000 in 2012 and “over time” all 16-year-olds able to take part. So far, 1,000 people have signed up this year, and another 8,000 have expressed an interest.

The pilot programmes will start in July after the end of GCSE examinations and will culminate in National Citizen Service graduation ceremonies attended by family and friends. Graduates of the National Citizen Service may later have the chance to take part in an International Citizen Service for 18 to 22-year-olds to help tackle poverty abroad.

The pilot schemes in Yorkshire will be run by: Action for Blind People (540 places in Bradford, Hull, north-east Lincolnshire, Tower Hamlets and Manchester); Football League (Community), with the club trusts of AFC Barnsley, Rotherham United, and Sheffield Wednesday.