Thousands of teenagers from across the North East have spent their summer holidays making a difference to their communities and local charities.

Almost 4,000 of the region’s teenagers took part in National Citizen Service (NCS) this summer, developing new skills and experiences to best equip them for future life.

The government-backed programme is open to all 16 and 17 year olds and culminates in a young-person led community action project.

Collectively, over 110,000 volunteering hours were invested by North East teens taking part in NCS through the vInspired-NYA partnership over summer. The young people created hundreds of community projects, supporting good causes and creating lasting legacies in the process.

16 and 17 year olds currently in year 12, 13 or equivalent provision have a chance to get involved in the autumn half-term NCS programme, with teens encouraged to book early.

Teenagers from the East Durham area donated toys and games to sick children at North Tees and Hartlepool Hospital. The team bravely took a dip in the sea at Seaham beach and bag-packed at their local Iceland store to raise funds for the purchase.

16 year old Courtney Ayre said: “We wanted to give the children using the ward some new and exciting toys.

“My NCS experience has been outstanding. I’d recommend others to get involved as soon as you can.”

In Darlington, teenagers refurbished the tired and unusable backyard of their local Oxfam store, cleared out rubbish and created a mural. The overhauled space can now be used by the charity’s volunteers for events.

16 year old Abi Offer said: “We wanted to make it somewhere volunteers could enjoy for years to come.”

Green-fingered teenagers in Newcastle spent four days cleaning, weeding, pruning and planting as they spruced up the garden at a local care home.

The group bridged the intergenerational gap as they bonded over a mutual love of Newcastle United.

Team leader Tayyab Hussain said: “The team will continue to maintain the garden for the residents, maintaining the friendships they’ve built up.”

In the North East, NCS is operated through a charitable partnership of vInspired and National Youth Agency, alongside a number of partners from the voluntary and community sector who deliver the programme locally.

Contract director for NCS in the North East, Kim Smith, said: “The North East has benefited from an incredible summer of social action.

“Young people have jumped well and truly out of their comfort zones and made huge impacts on their local areas through NCS. We can be immensely proud of the current generation of teenagers in our region.”

The next NCS programme runs over the autumn half-term, departing Friday 21 October or Monday 24 October. Government backing means places are capped at £50 or less, depending on circumstances.

The autumn experience includes a four-day, three-night residential where teens will meet new people and enjoy adventure, fun and freedom. Returning home, teens will then spend three days developing life skills like confidence, leadership and communication.

Next up, they’ll work with their NCS team to deliver their own community project – making a lasting impact on the local area. As well as helping to boost confidence and develop skills, NCS also helps to boost CVs and is recognised by UCAS, who encourage the scheme to be listed on personal statements.

Bookings are now open for the unmissable autumn programme, with parents or teenagers urged to call 0191 247 4020 or visit NCSNORTHEAST.co.uk now to secure their place.