A group of 16 and 17 year olds from are spending their summer holidays changing East Durham for the better following three weeks learning new skills and meeting new friends on the National Citizen Service (NCS) youth programme.

The teens, many of whom met for the first time just three weeks ago, worked together to create their own social action project using the skills they’d developed on the programme. After visiting a local nursery in Peterlee, the group chose to dedicate their project to improve the facilities available to children.

16 year old Hayley Robinson, from Peterlee, said: “I’ve really loved NCS. It’s got me out of my comfort zone and the best part was getting to know your team and getting close to them.”

Chloe Southward, 16 and also from Peterlee, said: “NCS has had me trying lots of new things – and I’ve been able to conquer my fear of heights too!”

Prior to creating their social action project, Hayley, Chloe and their peers spent a week of adventure in the Scottish borders with a host of new friends bonding in their groups and trying challenges, such as high ropes and canoeing. They then went on to stay in university-style accommodation in Durham where they picked up new skills and discussed how the power of young people can empower change in their local communities.

Over 100,000 teens nationally have signed up to take part in NCS this summer.

The duo, along with their team, have designed and delivered their own social action project.

“When we were planning our project we visited the nursery that is within East Durham College and while speaking to staff we realised that they’d wanted to create a mini beast hotel for some time. We felt we could work together as a team to create this,” explained Hayley:

“We built them a ‘Bugs Hotel’! The children have taken a real interest in it and the staff are really happy with the effort that we’ve all put in.”

“We’re all ‘buzzing’ with the result!” added Chloe.

In the North East NCS is delivered by a partnership of V•Inspired and National Youth Agency (NYA) who work thirteen local delivery providers including East Durham College.

NCS runs during the summer and autumn holidays and costs no more than £50, which covers the entire experience from food and accommodation to activities and travel, with bursaries available on a case by case basis; young people eligible for free school meals can take part for £10.

Young people aged 15-17 and their parents can register their interest at www.ncsyes.co.uk or by calling 0191 247 4020.

Chloe added: “I’ve really enjoyed NCS and I would say to anyone thinking about taking part: ‘definitely go for it because it is a great opportunity’.”

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