Summer 2020 has been very different for the typical teenager. With exams cancelled and no prom, festivals or holidays, youngsters from Hartlepool have instead turned their time to support Covid-19 relief projects across the borough.

Pledging their time with NCS (National Citizen Service), teams of teenagers have been carrying out an environmental project to brighten up areas, and the hearts of residents, in Hartlepool.

It’s all part of NCS’ ‘Keep Doing Good’ programme, where teens can organise their own projects and help support organisations such as food banks, care homes and charities, who all need extra help right now. Supported by NCS delivery partner Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation, a local team of teens have been busy putting their plans into action.

The teenagers have sourced trees and shrubs from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and have been donating them to key workers and residents across the town.

The teens wanted to show their appreciation for those key workers who have gone above and beyond over the past few months by giving them a little something to put a smile on their faces.

They delivered the shrubs to workers in local care homes, hospices and hospitals, as well as local residents so they can look back at these uncertain times and have a positive experience associated with it.

Sam James, 16, from Hartlepool, said: “I really appreciate the chance NCS has given me to make a difference in my community and to make friends.

“We met with local care homes, Hartlepool Hospital and Hartlepool Hospice representatives to thank them for all their hard work during Covid-19. We wanted them to know that their hard work hadn’t gone unnoticed. As a token of appreciation, we gifted them with shrubs to be planted in the grounds so they can always remember the good they brought to our town during the pandemic.”

The team were so moved by their visit to one particular care home that they’ve decided to keep in touch with the residents there by writing letters and arranging a visit once it is safe to do so.

Tracy Gatiss, NCS coordinator at Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation, said: “I’ve been really impressed with everything the team has achieved this summer. They have shown resilience after lockdown, coming together to meet others from different schools to plan and deliver their project.

“The team have been really passionate about volunteering and are planning to continue their kindness across Hartlepool.”

To find out more about the team’s work, you can find their Instagram page @Planting4Hartlepool.

This autumn there is another chance for teenagers aged 16 and 17 in year 12/13 to get involved in NCS programmes. Visit wearencs.com for more information.