North East teenagers are twice as likely to want to volunteer compared to their national counterparts, a survey has found.

Encouragingly, their parents are eager to support them – they’re more likely to see the benefits of volunteering than anywhere else in the country and over a quarter of the region’s parents want their teen to volunteer more this summer.

The survey of 1,000 parents of teens aged 16-17, commissioned by National Citizen Service (NCS), found that three in 10 worry their child will waste hours on a social media, and 37 percent worry that their teen will spend too much time in the house over the long summer break.

70% of the region’s parents say it would be beneficial for their teen to spend some of the summer holiday volunteering.

However, it also emerged that over half of North East parents polled admitted to being concerned that their child may ‘waste’ the entire summer.

The teenage children of the 1,000 parents polled were also invited to give their thoughts, with only a third of North East teens worried about wasting their time off.

The survey also highlighted that when it comes to making decisions around choosing volunteering or pursuing a part-time income, North East teens feel more money pressure than the national average. A quarter of the region’s teens also said that they ‘don’t know how’ to get involved in volunteering according to the research commissioned by NCS – a three to four week summer programme that, for just £50, which helps 16-17 year olds build life skills and become more active citizens in their communities

Key findings

• The North East is one of the top three regions in the UK where parents think teens will spend most of their summer volunteering.
• More than half of North East parents worry that their young people will waste their summer.
• A third of teens worry that they will waste their summer.
• Over a quarter of North East parents would like their teens to volunteer more during the summer break.
• North East parents feel stronger about the benefits of volunteering to their teens compared to anywhere else in the UK.
• North East teens are almost twice as likely to want to volunteer than teens from anywhere else in the UK.
• The region’s teens feel more ‘money pressure’ when making a decision to volunteer compared to the national average.
• 90% of North East teens see the value in volunteering.
• 64% of the region’s teens think it would be beneficial to spend part of their summer volunteering.

Commenting on the findings, Alex Elliott-Smith, 18, NCS graduate from Ponteland, said:

“It’s so important for teenagers to spend their summer productively, and I can’t think of any better way than through making a difference.

“Volunteering gave me a much needed boost when I struggled with mental health, it connected me with amazing friends who I still meet up with and has also led to paid employment. I hope to teach, shape and inspire young people in my future career.”

NCS graduate Eve Cooper, 17, from Hartlepool, said:

“I volunteer because it opens my eyes to other people’s situations. It makes me aware of any problems that need resolving.

“I’d like to think that if I was ever in need, someone else would volunteer to help me.”

Independent research has revealed that NCS participants feel more able to have a positive impact on the world around them.

Michael Lynas CEO NCS Trust, said:

“Young people are increasingly socially committed and want to volunteer, but it’s a shame that so many don’t know where to start.

“NCS gives young people the opportunity to meet new friends, learn vital life skills and explore their local community. Every NCS participant works with their team to design and deliver a project that makes a real difference to a cause they care about. Collectively, they have spent more than 12 and a half million hours volunteering.

“With the summer holidays approaching, teenagers who want to make their mark in their community should consider NCS. They will learn that doing good feels good, and can also boost their confidence and skills for the future.”

The Education Secretary laid out the 5 Foundations for Building Character, pledging to work with schools and external organisations to help every child access character-building activities that prepare them for the road ahead.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds, said:

“Volunteers make a huge difference to the lives of thousands of people up and down the country and I want more young people to contribute to their communities – an experience that also helps build character and gives them the chance to see a bigger picture.

“It’s great to see organisations like NCS provide programmes that offer young people these opportunities to try something new.

“Education and preparation for adult life are about much more than qualifications. That’s why we talk about 5 foundations for building character, a broad range of activities, including volunteering and membership, to stretch and help young people think, develop and grow.”

Limited places are available for 16-17 year olds to take part in NCS this summer. The 3-4 week programme costs £50 with bursaries available upon request. To find out more go to