This autumn NCS teenagers in Darlington have been out in force, dedicating time helping to support their local community through social action projects, while also learning new skills and boosting their CVs.

Teens were able to volunteer by signing up to the NCS (National Citizen Service) autumn programme, which is delivered locally by Groundwork North East.

After taking part in adventurous activities at the Tees Barrage, where they took part in a high ropes course, paddle boarding and kayaking, the team researched Covid-secure project ideas to see how they could give back to the local community at a time of great need. Over the course of just two days the teenagers helped plant over 7,000 bulbs at The Denes Park in Darlington.

NCS teens were able to support The Denes Park at a time when crucial park maintenance had not previously been completed due to Covid-19.

Luke Martin, age 16 from Darlington, said: “Come the spring, we hope the bulbs will bring colour to the park. This has been a place for many to escape during lockdown, so it was important for us to do our bit in improving it for everyone in Darlington. After telling my Dad about my team’s social action project, he told me about bulbs he planted 35 years ago that are still going strong.

“I went on NCS alone so having the opportunity to meet some new people was awesome, I have definitely made new lifelong friends. It felt good knowing we had such a good time and achieved something great on our social action project, planting the bulbs and also a sweet collection to donate to families fleeing domestic violence. Most of us are going to maintain the projects throughout the next year.”

Councillor Stephen Harker said: “It was fantastic to have a group of young people working with the Friends of the Denes to plant bulbs in the park. We planted 4,500 bulbs on one morning alone – and that was largely due to the tremendous efforts of those young people.”

Gemma Davison, Senior Youth Worker at Groundwork North East, said: “It has been an absolute privilege to work with this inspiring group of young people this autumn, who volunteered their time to make a difference through NCS. These young people are the reason we at Groundwork do the job we do.”

“It was great to get outdoors and be part of the local community again despite living in these unprecedented times. We really do feel very proud to be part of such a fantastic project.”

Across the country many more young people are making a difference in their local communities by doing NCS.

Since NCS was founded, more than 600,000 young people have been on an NCS programme, contributing to 14.5 million hours of volunteering.

For more information on NCS, please visit www.wearencs.com.