This autumn teenagers in Sunderland have been out in force, dedicating over 2,500 hours helping to support their local community through social action projects, while also learning new skills and boosting their CVs.

Teens were able to volunteer, prior to lockdown, by signing up to the NCS (National Citizen Service) autumn programme, which is delivered locally by the Foundation of Light.

Making a difference across Sunderland, teens have been raising awareness and funds for local charities and causes such as at Grace House where £300 was donated for their respite facility. Teens also planted fruit trees for the residents to enjoy for years to come.

Elsewhere a team collected donations for the Salvation Army and delivered food parcels around the city to help those who are struggling due to the pandemic, while other groups helped renovate the gardens of Young Asian Voices’ centre, and repainted Thompson Park and St. Luke’s community centres.

At Gildacre Care Home, green-fingered youngsters planted flowers for the benefit of isolating residents, while also donating a plant to the family of a local police officer who sadly died from Covid-19.

Shahzana Aslam, Young Asian Voices’ Youth Employment and Development Officer, said: “I would like to say a big thank you to all of the young people and staff for helping renovate the gardens. An amazing group of young and hardworking people.”

Rachael, 16 from Sunderland, said: “Making a difference to the local community is something that has made me feel proud. I have grown in confidence and met some new friends along the way. I highly recommend getting involved with NCS on future social action projects.”

Next up, participants will also be lending a hand to helping the Foundation tackle food poverty, through the Give a Quid campaign. Food parcels will be distributed as part of the NCS’ local action group.

Craig Martin, the Foundation of Light’s NCS Manager, said: “The initiative shown by the youngsters has been a pleasure to watch and seeing them work through their social action projects, from setting and planning through to bringing it to life is great to see.

“The feedback we’ve had from organisations they’ve worked with has been great too, they’ve not only been a credit to NCS, the Foundation and the local community, but to themselves too.”

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, visit wearencs.com.