Volunteering hours continue to rise with National Citizen Service

Young people across Cumbria are being thanked this Volunteers' Week (1-7th June) for their commitment and dedication to raising money and awareness for local charities and organisations.

Encouraging volunteering is now an established government policy and is clearly seen through programmes like the National Citizen Service(NCS) for 16 and 17 year olds. Part of the NCS adventure involves young people engaging with local communities to develop social action projects.

Pete Alger, Director at Inspira, the organisation who manages and delivers the bulk of the programme in Cumbria, said, "from the start of the programme (2011) the NCS participants have contributed approximately 135,000 hours of volunteering. It is an amazing achievement and it is heart- warming to see NCS Grads continue to give up their time for social action projects."

From 2000 to 2015, data from the Office for National Statistics showed that 16–25 year olds went from being the least likely group to volunteer to the most likely – and the same findings mentioned NCS as a possible reason behind this change.

Social action projects have included rising awareness and money for mental health, homelessness and foodbanks.

"The young people are incredibly passionate and really dive in to researching, then designing and implementing their projects," continued Mr Alger. "I am really looking forward to seeing what the young people come up with this year."

Over the Summer Inspira and their local delivery partners will be taking over 1000 young Cumbrian's on their NCS adventure. They will also experience outdoor activities and independent living.

To date, NCS graduates have dedicated nearly 12 million hours of community action. Each programme includes 30 hours dedicated to a community project, with participants planning and delivering a social action project that gives something back to their community. Independent research has found that after completing NCS participants say they feel more equipped to tackle problems in their community, and more able to have an impact on the world around them.