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We’re delighted that in recognition of his extraordinary work and commitment to improving the lives of young people in the North West, Bill Holroyd, founder and chair of OnSide, was awarded a CBE in the 2012 New Years Honours list and recently took his family to Buckingham Palace to receive the award.
Bill is adamant that the award reflects the dedication and hard work of everyone who has played a part in the OnSide story.
He points to the youth workers and volunteers in each Youth Zone; to the business leaders who have given so generously – of their time and money – and local authorities who have championed OnSide’s initiatives. He also applauds the positivity of the local communities who have welcomed the Youth Zones.
Youth Zones in Carlisle, Oldham, Manchester and Blackburn now typically host around seven thousand young people each week, demonstrating that the ambition of replicating the model of Bolton Lads and Girls Club, the starting point for Bill’s onSide vision, is well underway.
However, with preparation for three further Youth Zones underway, in Wigan, Preston, and Wolverhampton, Bill has no intention of resting on his recently acquired laurels.
“There should be Youth Zones everywhere that they’re needed in the UK. OnSide’s work will continue until there is somewhere safe and positive for young people to go, somewhere that they can develop new skills – or just have fun – in every town or city.
“The link between a lack of investment in proper facilities for young people and a rise in crime and anti-social behaviour amongst them seems clear to me. But all too often, young people are demonised and their needs and rights ignored, when reality, if given a choice, they’d prefer to be somewhere safe, using their leisure time constructively.
My experience with Bolton Lads and Girls Club and OnSide has been transformative for me. I can truly say that it has changed the way I see the world, but the journey isn’t over yet. There is still a great deal more work to be done and I’m looking forward to the next chapter.”
Jeremy Glover, chief executive, OnSide, said, “Everyone here at OnSide was thrilled to hear the news of Bill’s award. His single-minded determination has led to the building of four youth zones in three years. Despite his typically modest stance, in reality, without Bill, none of this would have happened, and the CBE is testament to this.”