Catherine McKinnell, MP for Newcastle North, has praised community-minded teenagers for making a difference to the local area through their involvement in National Citizen Service (NCS).

Meeting with NCS graduates at Studio West in West Denton, Catherine heard about the social action projects the students had organised and the new skills they’d developed while taking part in the country’s flagship youth empowerment programme.

Year 12 students Dil Awaiz, 17, Eleanor Gregor, 17, Victoria Small, 16, Peter Nee, 16, and Lewis Cooper, 16, told Catherine how they’d used their new skills and initiative to create community projects that included  supporting local charity Dementia Care’s staff by gardening and decorating at their centre in Brunswick Village.

Another project saw teenagers spruce up Murray House Community Centre in Newcastle’s West End in order to improve the facilities for young people using the space.

NCS graduate Victoria Small said: “We had such a great time on the course. It felt great to give something back to the community and help others. A few of the group had family that have been affected by dementia so it was very real to us. We have been back recently to present them with a cheque from our fundraising and it was nice to see them all again.”

Sam McLoughlin, Post 16 and Workplace Co-ordinator, Studio West, said: “Our students thoroughly enjoyed taking part in NCS and have returned with skills and experiences that will help them in their futures. We are proud to include NCS as a term time activity for our students and believe that all young people should get involved.”

Catherine McKinnell MP said: “It has been fantastic to hear about the really positive impact NCS has had on this group of young people and how Studio West have supported the programme. Hearing the inspirational stories from their community projects shows me how invested they all are in the local area and how they appreciate the people and spaces that make it so special.

“I am delighted to support National Citizen Service and encourage even more young people from my constituency to take up this opportunity in the summer.”

Kim Smith, Contract Director of NCS North East, a partnership of V•Inspired, National Youth Agency (NYA) and thirteen local delivery partners from the voluntary and community sector across the region, said: “I am thrilled that Catherine has been able to catch up with inspiring NCS graduates at Studio West and see first-hand the difference youth-powered social action makes. I’d also like to thank the staff at Studio West for helping promote NCS to students and parents.”

Almost 500 teenagers from Newcastle took part in NCS last year, collectively spending at least 14,400 volunteering hours giving back to their communities. Even more teenagers from the area are set to part in 2017.

The next NCS programme, for 16 and 17 year olds, takes place during the summer holidays and includes a week of adventure at an outdoor centre in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales or Scottish borders where teens will meet new people and enjoy adventure, fun and freedom. Teens will then spend another week developing life skills like confidence, leadership and communication while staying in a uni-style environment.

They’ll then work with their NCS team to deliver their own community project – making a lasting impact on the local area.

NCS enables young people to expand their horizons whilst gaining essential skills. It is government-backed so will never cost more than £50 including food, transport and accommodation for the time away. Young people eligible for free school meals can take part for £10 or less.

Places on this summer’s NCS summer programme are now limited, so teens are being urged to act fast to book their place online at NCSNORTHEAST.co.uk or by calling 0191 247 4020.