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History has been made after a spade went into the ground to officially start work on London’s first ever OnSide Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham.
The Youth Zone’s Chair Charles Mindenhall was joined by Barking and Dagenham Council Leader Darren Rodwell, the facility’s funders and other dignitaries, including West Ham captain Mark Noble, at a special ground-breaking celebration on cutting the first sod with a giant spade on Parsloes Park.
Opening in 2019, the £6million centre will boast a wide array of world-class facilities and activities from sports in the four-court sports hall, martial arts room and 3G kick pitch; to art, drama, music, cooking and enterprise and employability opportunities.
Young people aged between eight and 19 – and those up to 25 with additional needs – will pay just 50p per visit and £5 for an annual membership.
Built on the successful OnSide model, half of the Youth Zone’s construction costs will come from Barking and Dagenham Council with the Jack Petchey Foundation and the Queen’s Trust both contributing £1.5million each.
Youth Zone Chair Charles Mindenhall said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to put the spade in the ground and get to work building this amazing OnSide Youth Zone for the young people of Barking and Dagenham, the first of its kind in London.
“This is a momentous day for the OnSide charity. We always tell people that Youth Zones offer young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to but they are so much more than that and I can’t wait to see the whole borough benefit from this wonderful facility.”
The Youth Zone will cost £1million per year to run with national charity OnSide committed to raising that, with most of the funds coming from private sector and philanthropic contributions who come onboard as Founder Patrons.
A number of those who have already committed to supporting the project were also present at the ground-breaking celebration.
Future Youth Zone Chief Executive Gavin Evans said: “This is another huge milestone in our journey to making Future Youth Zone a reality for the young people of Barking and Dagenham. We were delighted to see so many people at the ground-breaking ceremony; people who have already committed to helping us build Future Youth Zone and we look forward to working with the rest of the business community to help us provide an inspirational and vibrant place for young people to go.”
Barking and Dagenham Council Leader Darren Rodwell was delighted to see the spade go into the ground.
He said: “This is a historic day for the borough and we can see the start of a major new project getting underway. I was thrilled to see so many young people in attendance as this is going to transform their lives and make such a big difference in the local area.
“It was also fantastic to see Mark Noble take time out of his busy schedule to be part of a special day. Mark is a great example to our youngsters of what can be achieved if you work hard and believe in your own ability.
“This has been a long time coming for our young people and will be the best facility for them to use in Barking and Dagenham. It shows we are investing in them and that must continue. The spade has now gone into the ground and the excitement can now grow stronger as we move ever closer to the grand unveiling.”
West Ham captain Noble was thrilled to be part of the ceremony and knows more than most the importance of youngsters getting the opportunity to fulfil their dreams.
Noble said: “This is a big day for Barking and Dagenham. You can see from the youngsters who attended the excitement they are getting from a new Youth Zone being built in the borough.
“Dreams can certainly become a reality and a development like this can only improve their chances of achieving their goals.”