Newcastle teen calls for peers to step outside their comfort zone

29 Mar 2016

A young person from Newcastle has been helping to inform a new report released by Kings College London (KCL), commissioned by flagship youth programme, National Citizen Service (NCS).In the North East, delivery of NCS is led by a partnership of national youth charities vInspired and NYA.

Rob Austin _18 Mar 2016_002

The report looks at how social skills developed early in life can reduce loneliness, improve wellbeing and earnings in later life and makes recommendations

Authored by Dr Jennifer Lau, researcher specialising in the psychology of adolescent mental health at KCL, the report explores the current levels of ‘social intelligence’, defined as the ability to apply our understanding of people’s emotions to decide the appropriate form of interaction with others, amongst the next generation, raising some key concerns. Most surprisingly, the study shows teenagers today are experiencing higher levels of loneliness than those aged 55+ and are particularly lacking skills enabling them to interact with people from different backgrounds.

Rob was contacted by NCS on behalf of KCL due to his own dramatic transformation in social skills from the time he spent on the programme, to see how his experience could influence others.

Rob Austin, 20, from Newcastle says: “The confidence to be myself around other people outside of my school group was something I really struggled with. I was anxious to meet new people and didn’t know what they’d think of me, looking back it was an issue that really held me back. Ever since going on NCS it all changed, and everyone has been able to see the difference. Even though we were all from different backgrounds, our group became really close from the first day of the programme which really helped me realise it’s okay to be yourself and having different opinions and perspectives can be really helpful. Working together as a team to create a social action project also helped me discover how to work within a team and manage challenging situations.

Kim Smith, Contract Director for NCS North East, says: “Rob is testimony to the fact that social intelligence can be a learned skill that gets you far in life.”

Young people or parents from the NE interested in NCS should call 0191 2474020 or visit to find out more.

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