This article first appeared in the Gills' match programme, 5 September 2015
Good afternoon fellow Gills’ fans. I hope you have enjoyed the summer (apart from the far too many rainy days). I know I have thoroughly enjoyed the Gills’ fantastic start to the season. A big thank you to the Chairman, management, the team and to you, the amazing supporters.
We’re now at that time of year, when children return to school so they can continue their studies after the summer break.
Some may have spent the break on a sunny holiday, others practicing their footie skills in the garden, the parks or perhaps they were lucky enough to join in with one of the Gills summer soccer schools.
This is one group of young people that I want to mention in particular, who have given up their time to help others.
Last week, 125 young people from across the Medway towns celebrated their graduation. What were they celebrating?
They had just completed a life changing experience – an eight week challenge to lead their own social action projects and work with local people.
The National Citizen Service is a fantastic initiative set up by the Government to give 16 and 17 year olds the opportunity to gain new skills, take on new challenges and do something positive for the local area.
More than 800 youngsters have taken part in Medway since the scheme started back in 2011.
Over the summer holidays these students have gone away for a few days to an outdoor activity centre to challenge themselves and build confidence.
They have then worked together to deliver a social action project. This has in the past included gardening work at a care home or working for a local charity that supports the homeless.
This programme does not just boost their CVs, but helps young people to learn about working as a team, leadership, planning and how to budget. It’s also a lot of fun.
You can check it out for yourself by visiting the website
If you can’t do the full eight weeks, luckily the Government has expanded the scheme. It’s been so popular that young people can now take part in a shorter version during the October and February half term.
I think it is important to encourage everyone, young or older, to get involved in the local community and to give something back. Finding the time can be tricky given how busy our lives are, but around half of adults volunteer at least once a month. And it can be a very rewarding experience.
We are lucky to have lots of voluntary groups in Gillingham and Rainham, Medway and around Kent doing brilliant work to support the local community. I recently had the opportunity to meet some inspiring volunteers who have joined the Dementia Buddy Scheme at the local hospital. This is making a real difference to people’s lives, providing companionship and assistance to those living with dementia. I would like to encourage anyone who can spare a few hours a week to become part of this scheme.
I hope that you enjoy the game today and think about some of the great opportunities that exist to get involved here in Gillingham and Rainham and towns across the great county of Kent.
Tomorrow I will be running my 11th half marathon for Medway Hospital Radio, which provides a great service to patients in hospital, there is still time to sponsor me through my JustGiving page.
I think it will be a tough task to beat my previous best time of 1 hour 28 minutes which I achieved earlier in the year running for the Gills Charity Take Heart Mercy Mission as I am only landing back later today from my own summer break.
Up the Gills.
Your local Member of Parliament, Rehman Chishti MP
P.S. do you know your Gills’ history? What were the Gills called before it became Gills FC?
Tweet your answer to @Rehman_Chishti