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Graham Ramsbottom appointed Crewe Youth Zone Chair

11th July 2023 by OnSide

OnSide is delighted to announce that Graham Ramsbottom has been appointed as Chair of Crewe Youth Zone.

An advocate of OnSide for many years, Graham says he is excited to take on the role and extend the charity’s network of Youth Zones to Crewe.

Graham grew up in Yorkshire but his career took him around the UK in roles with the Royal Navy and then as a Land Manager in Scotland. Since 2001 Graham has been based in the North West, first working for the Cooperative Group and then for 13 years as CEO of the Wheatsheaf Group, part of the Grosvenor Estate. Graham was a founding member of the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and is now a Partner at London based Greensphere Capital where he drives their investment strategy to develop nature-based technology solutions to address the challenges of climate change and global biodiversity loss. Graham lives just over the border in North Wales with his family and hopes to combine his previous experience and connections within the area to drive forward Crewe Youth Zone.

Crewe Youth Zone is being delivered by national charity OnSide, supported by Cheshire East Council, the Crewe Town Board, various charitable trust and foundation grant funding bodies and the private sector.

Subject to plans being approved, the Youth Zone is expected to open in 2025 and will be built on the Oak Street Car Park to the south of the town centre. It will provide thousands of young people with opportunities to engage in activities and access support from skilled youth workers, helping them to develop their skills and reach their full potential.

Once opened, Crewe Youth Zone will be an independent charity with a private-sector led board, including local representatives. It will be part of the OnSide Network of 14 Youth Zones nationwide, supporting over 50,000 young people. Youth Zones are open to young people aged between eight and 19 (up to 25 for those with additional needs), seven days a week, for just 50p a visit. Members will have access to an indoor climbing wall, four-court sports hall, training kitchen, music room with a recording studio, fully-equipped gym, dance and drama studio, 3G kick pitch, arts and crafts room, and an enterprise and employability suite.

In addition to these incredible facilities, trained youth workers and dedicated volunteers will be available seven days a week to offer guidance and support to help Crewe’s young people to thrive. It will create a number of full and part-time jobs as well as many volunteering opportunities.  In March is was announced that all of the building costs for the Youth Zone have been raised thanks to support from Cheshire East Council, Crewe Town Board and the DCMS’s Youth Investment Fund. Focus can now turn to raising the remainder of the running costs and Graham will be encouraging members of the local business community to get behind the Youth Zone and make this dream a reality for young people living in Crewe.

Joining Graham on the board of trustees for Crewe Youth Zone will be Joëlle Warren, Ian O’Doherty and Claire Williamson. Joëlle is from Sandbach and founded local search firm,  Warren Partners. She is also Vice Lord Lieutenant for Cheshire and was the founding Chair of the Cheshire Community Foundation. Ian, who lives in Chester, is the former CEO of MBNA and latterly Appreciate Group. He is the current Chair of Chester Racecourse.

Claire Williamson is the Director of Strong Start, Family Help and Integration for Cheshire East Council. Claire has driven early intervention and prevention agendas across various partner organisations for over 25 years. She is passionate  about ensuring that our children receive opportunities to engage in activities. As a trained youth worker herself, she has witnessed the positive impact high quality youth provision can have on the long-term aspirations and outcomes of children.

Crewe Youth Zone will continue recruiting to the board to ensure there are specialists from different business areas to help drive forward the Youth Zone and support the operational team who will run the Youth Zone once opened.

Commenting on the new role Graham said:

“Fourteen years on I still vividly recall how moved I was to hear a young lady talk about how the Youth Zone in Bolton had transformed her life. Providing young people with their own world class youth facility and the opportunity to discover their potential, passion and purpose is the least they deserve. I’m really pleased to be working alongside Ian, Joëlle and Claire on the board and look forward to making Crewe Youth Zone a reality for the town and all of its young people.”

Planning permission for Crewe Youth Zone was granted on 28 June and we expect to break ground later this year. A group of local young people will be brought together to support with the development of the Youth Zone prior to opening, including helping to come up with the name and brand of the Youth Zone.