15 teenagers gave up their late May bank holiday Monday to arrange and participate in a mass clean-up at Redcar beach. The young people travelled from all across the North East to help not only revamp the beach itself, but also the reputation of teenagers. The team met through National Citizen Service (NCS), the UK’s flagship youth programme, where they bonded on the two to four week programme and became passionate about contributing to their local communities.
The teenagers, who are on the regional youth board for NCS North East, came up with the idea to clean-up Redcar beach at their last meeting, where they agreed to do something positive over the half term. After contacting Friends of Redcar (FRED), a community action group, the board committed to helping to transform the beach into a place for all to enjoy. From 11:30am, the teenagers rolled up their sleeves and combed the beach for litter in a bid to restore its image, recording the whole event on Periscope.
Claudia Titton, 17 years old from Crook, Co. Durham, who sits on the regional youth board for NCS, says: “I never thought I’d be the person to give up my time to volunteer, but since NCS I realised it’s not how I thought it would be! I made amazing new friends on the programme and we have a great time with each other, so coming together to use the skills we learnt is the perfect way to catch up. We all love Redcar beach, so we thought we’d put our break to good use and try to make a real difference.”
She continues: “This project is just one of so many that NCS graduates create, we learn so much about the community and how to make a difference that we feel excited to try it for ourselves.”
NCS is a part residential programme open to all 16-17 year olds during school holidays. Running across England and Northern Ireland, the programme aims to widen horizons, bridge social divides and create community cohesion whilst developing key skills for work and life. In the third phase of the programme, participants create a social action project in the local community around an issue they are passionate about and spend 30 hours implementing it.
Carl Quartermain, from FRED, says: “Redcar beach is a special place for friends and family alike to spend their time but sadly we often have an issue with littering. Having a group of teenagers approach us to help keep the area clean was therefore a very welcome gesture! You read about young people being stuck to their phones and not relating to the outside world, but this group couldn’t be further from the stereotype. They got together and did something selfless, and they all credited their commitment due to their time on NCS. It was great to have them on board.”
Kim Smith, Contract Director of NCS North East, the local provider of the programme, says: “We love seeing our graduates continuing their passion for social action. Not only did this group have an amazing time on NCS challenging themselves with new adventures and activities, as this event demonstrates, they were really inspired to continue their support of the local community. With the summer programme round the corner, we’re encouraging young people and their parents to book their place now before it’s too late.”
The programme takes place across England and Northern Ireland, outside of term time, and is open to all 16-17 year olds for no more than £50. Teenagers can book their place online at NCSNORTHEAST.co.uk or by calling 0191 247 4020.