Youth Zone at Home: OnSide’s response to Covid-19
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There were smiles all round on Saturday 26th September as young people celebrated the official opening of Manchester’s HideOut Youth Zone.
Located in Belle Vue, HideOut Youth Zone is a brand-new youth charity set to provide young Mancunians with somewhere to go, something to and someone to talk to. Following months of isolation, which has taken its toll on young people’s physical and mental wellbeing, the Youth Zone will play a key role in supporting young people for years to come.
Open to young people aged 8-19 and up to 25 for those with additional needs, the Youth Zone provides members with access to an indoor climbing wall, four-court sports hall, fully equipped gym, 3G all-weather pitch, music room with recording suite, training kitchen, dance studio, health and well-being room, arts and crafts area and much more, all for just 50p per visit.
During a ribbon cutting ceremony, the Youth Zone was officially opened by Capital Donor Fred Done, representatives from Manchester City Council and young people. Guests heard from, Alex Kennedy, 16, one of the young people involved in the development group that created the Youth Zone as she shared a touching speech about her involvement with the charity.
Alex Kennedy said “I’ve been part of the development group working on this Youth Zone for over a year now. It’s amazing to see all our hard work has turned into a fantastic building which will help to support and encourage young people.”
Fred Done, Capital Donor said: “I am fortunate that I am in a position to help set up this centre which officially opened today. I’m from a working class background not so far away in Salford and know how important it is that young people get a chance to better their lives. My message to youngsters in East Manchester is come on down and enjoy this fantastic centre that’s right at the heart of your community.”
The £6.6million state-of-the-art youth facility was originally due to open in Spring 2020, however due to the coronavirus pandemic, plans for a spring opening were put on hold.
In order to provide essential youth work support to young people, the team has implemented new safety measures that are in-line with guidance from the government, Public Health England, the NHS, Health and Safety Executive, the National Youth Agency and wider stakeholders including Manchester City Council.
The Covid-19 safety measures in place at HideOut include capacity management, social distancing and hygiene stations throughout the building. Initially, the Youth Zone will limit the number of young people able to attend and all members will take part in activities in bubbles of no more than 15. As restrictions ease and guidance allows, the Youth Zone will implement an open offer which enables young people to turn up and take part in as many of the 20+ activities on offer each evening.
Adam Farricker, Chief Executive at HideOut Youth Zone said: “Although it is not the opening we had originally planned, we are proud to be welcoming young people into the building and provide much-needed support for many young people during this challenging time. I’d like to say a huge thank you to HideOut’s supporters and funders for turning this dream into a reality for young Mancunians. Today marks the start of a very exciting journey for the City’s young people.”
HideOut Youth Zone is based on the successful OnSide Youth Zones model and will be the 14th Youth Zone in the national OnSide Network since the charity began in 2008. Without restrictions on capacity, Youth Zones across the country can typically welcome up to 250 young people every evening.
Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide Youth Zones said: “Having the 14th OnSide Youth Zone open has bene amazing. After the last few months when we’ve all been so isolated, to come here and see young people having such a fantastic time and seeing the potential and what the future has got in store for it is just amazing. Youth Zones are absolutely vital, it’s a critical resource for the whole community. It directly helps young people but by doing so it helps their families and all of their friends as well as the whole community. To the private sector individuals and businesses that get involved in the Youth Zone, a huge thank-you. The projects just can’t happen without you, you are really in the lifeblood of making the whole thing happen.”
The Youth Zone will now be open throughout the week with different sessions for juniors (8-12) and seniors (13-19 and up to 25 for those with additional needs). Annual membership £5 then members pay just 50p per visit. For more information, visit thee HideOut Youth Zone website.