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A group of young people proved that they are good citizens as they stepped up to lend a hand at a college in Billingham.

The volunteers, who are taking part in the National Citizen Service (NCS), gave their time and effort to create a calming outdoor space for students at The Skills Academy.

Providing an alternate learning environment for school leavers who don’t feel ready for the bustle of larger college life, Academy manager Marie Clay said: “The sensory garden along with the improved shelter for our animals, will be a welcome addition to our outdoor facilities.

“It will particularly benefit those students who enjoy spending time outdoors and develop confidence from caring for the animals.”

Delivered locally by Safe In Tees Valley, the National Citizen Service is a four-week development programme that enables young people aged 15 to 17 the chance to build skills for work and life by taking on new challenges.

NCS Stockton team leader Edd Stephens said: “It is about learning independent living skills, including how to be organised and managing a budget.

“The community project offers the chance to put what they have learned into practice and give something back.”

With two NCS teams choosing to carry out their projects at The Skills Academy, 21 young people helped to build an animal shelter and chicken run, they laid a path for the sensory garden, adding three raised beds and a willow arch.

Fellow NCS Stockton team leader Tom Batchelor said: “The young people have done really well and they get a great sense of achievement at the end.”

One of the young people taking part in the NCS programme, Amir Davies, 17, of Stockton, explained: “The programme gives you a lot of skills and confidence. It also gives you a strong work ethic as well.”

Adam Allen, 16, of Guisborough added: “It has been an enjoyable experience and it is good to know you are helping out the community at the same time.”

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