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Barking and Dagenham Gives Green Light for London’s First OnSide Youth Zone

22nd July 2015 by OnSide

Barking and Dagenham is set to be the first London borough to develop an OnSide Youth Zone, as the Council’s Cabinet agreed proposals for the project at a meeting held last night.

Councillors gave the go ahead for us to deliver a state-of-the-art £6million youth facility at the proposed site of Parsloes Park, as part of the Borough’s long term ambition to refurbish and re-vitalise the area.

The exciting plans will see a purpose-built Youth Zone open seven-days-a-week, with more than 20 activities on offer every session for young people aged 8-19, or up to 25 for those with a disability. The Youth Zone will raise the aspirations, enhance prospects and improve health and wellbeing for young people in Barking and Dagenham, by providing affordable access to a wide range of programmes, services and activities including sports, arts, music, employability and mentoring.

Barking and Dagenham Council, which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary since becoming a single local authority, is due to invest £3million towards the Youth Zone development costs as well as providing the site.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This project is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to provide our young people with access to an inspiring, quality and affordable facility.

“Barking and Dagenham is a dynamic place with a vibrant community, but we do have some complex challenges. With the highest percentage of 0-19 year olds in the country, we must ensure our young people have access to the best opportunities as they grow-up. By providing an OnSide Youth Zone for use in their leisure time, we can achieve sustainable and frankly brilliant outcomes not only for young people, but for the whole community, helping to raise the aspirations of our future generations and build a sense of civic pride among us all.”

The project is also being made possible thanks to significant financial investment from The Queen’s Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation, to make this first Youth Zone in London a reality. The Queen’s Trust is investing £2.1million towards both the capital and revenue costs of the Youth Zone and Jack Petchey Foundation is contributing £1.5million of match funding towards the building costs.

Charles Mindenhall, London Champion for OnSide Youth Zones said: “As London’s population continues to grow rapidly, there is a compelling and urgent need to address the lack of high quality services in many areas of the capital. The substantial support of The Queen’s Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation for the first of these ground-breaking projects in the capital is extremely significant. Through their generosity we will be able to fast-track the development of a Youth Zone and  create a long-lasting partnership in Barking and Dagenham, between its visionary council, local private sector and the community, which I am confident will go on to deliver for their young people for years to come.”

The Youth Zone will cost £1million per annum to run and we will secure revenue funding for the first three years prior to opening from a combination of private sector and charitable trusts and grants.

Nicola Brentnall, Director of The Queen’s Trust said: “OnSide Youth Zones are so much more than simply leisure centres. Open 7 days a week and right through the school holidays, they provide young people with the three things they want, something to do, somewhere safe to go and, possibly most importantly of all, someone to talk to. Too many young people have no-one in their lives with whom they can share their troubles.

“Independent research shows that OnSide’s offer helps young people feel fitter, happier, more self-confident and able to perform better at school. They also help young people get jobs and into further education – and all this wrapped up in a great leisure time offer that is helping whole communities. The Queen’s Trust is supporting OnSide to open new centres in the North-East and North-West. We are delighted to help Barking and Dagenham get the first Youth Zone going in the Capital, to help our local young people get ahead.”

Jack Petchey CBE, Patron of the Jack Petchey Foundation said: “We have a particular interest in the East End of London and want to ensure that young people are engaged in positive activities that raise their aspirations. We have long admired the work of Bolton Lads and Girls Club and now that OnSide is seeking a similar development in the East End of London, we are particularly excited about being involved in the first club built on this model in our capital city.

“This year we celebrate 15 years of service to young people and I will also reach the milestone of 90years! We have been looking to make an exceptional capital grant to mark the celebrations. Given that Barking and Dagenham is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, we thought it would be the perfect time to pledge our support for the first London Youth Zone in their borough.”

Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide Youth Zones added: “This is an incredibly exciting time; to be able to announce our first London Youth Zone for Barking and Dagenham is a significant step forward in our national mission, to ensure many more young people across the country benefit from quality, safe and inspiring places to go in their leisure time.

“The vision and commitment from Barking and Dagenham Council alongside the support of The Queen’s Trust and Jack Petchey Foundation, elevates our charity to a national level and will have a radical effect on our ambitious plans to extend the reach of our Youth Zone projects within the capital and beyond.”

Barking and Dagenham’s Youth Zone is expected to open by early 2018.

Have a look at the latest CGI below of what the Youth Zone could look like….