The idea of all 16-year-olds undertaking a six week Citizens Service Project is the best policy I have ever heard come from any party in the last 20 years. I truly believe that this initiative will not only be of great benefit to the population at large, but it will also be an election winner. This is definitely something I wish I could have taken part in when I left school. This will snapped up by the kids who are always complaining of being bored, and I am sure it is something they will look forward to. It would be a good idea for those who have completed their CS project, to return to their schools, to give an account of their exploits to the following years school leavers.
The main points of the Citizen Service are:
. A non-compulsory six-week programme, including charity work and physical activity.
. Personal development - what it means to be an adult in Britain today.
. Youngsters from all backgrounds - "north or south, rich or poor, black or white" would do it together and it would be "challenging and exciting".
. To encourage young people to be part of a successful and strong British society.
. Made up of one week's residential course, four weeks of community service and a week's physical challenge (Army training or trying to climb the Three Peaks).
. Work with the elderly or travelling overseas to developing countries.
. Cash sum on completion of service, with half going to a charity of their choice and half to the organisation that ran the project.
. Boost participants' pride in themselves and in Britain.
If this takes off - and I desperately hope it does, it could be a turning point for our society.