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Preston Youth Zone appoints Chief Executive

15th March 2024 by OnSide

Preston Youth Zone is welcoming Tim Jacques as its new Chief Executive. Tim becomes the charity’s first CEO after a career spanning over 37 years in the police. 

Work is now underway on the development of Preston Youth Zone, located in the city centre on the corner of Crooked Lane and Tithebarn Street. Set to open in 2025, 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. 

Tim is a proud Prestonian having lived there most of his life, attending St Cuthbert Mayne High School (now Our Lady’s High) and Newman College before starting work in a couple of city centre shops (Heatley’s Cycles & Goodright’s TV and HiFi store). Tim was eventually inspired to join the police and started walking the beat in Preston, progressing through the ranks to become an Assistant Chief Constable in Lancashire. Tim was then promoted into a National Policing Role, becoming a Deputy Assistant Commissioner running the UK’s Counter Terrorism operations from New Scotland Yard and the new Counter Terrorism Operations Centre in London.  

Tim’s passion for supporting young people began during his role at Lancashire Constabulary, where he encountered many young people in crisis, including in his role as a Hostage and Crisis negotiator. Tim’s own father was orphaned at an early age and was brought up in foster care before eventually joining the RAF. Throughout his policing career, Tim became acutely aware of the lack of opportunities for many young people, and then discovered OnSide’s Youth Zones. After visiting BLGC and Youth Zones in Wigan, Manchester and the Wirral, he knew he wanted to be involved in bringing one to Preston’s young people. Tim, who was a school Governor for 15 years, was invited to join the board of trustees in Preston when he was still the City’s Chief Superintendent, and when the CEO job was advertised, Tim jumped at the chance of applying saying: 

“Visiting other Youth Zones was a mind-blowing experience, the opportunities they offer young people are amazing, from that point on I was hooked. The prospect of leading a team to open one of these spaces for Preston’s young people was just too tantalising, I had to go for it!” 

He added:

“I am proud and honoured to become the first Chief Executive of this brilliant  charity, and I am grateful for the persistence and effort displayed by the charity’s Board of Governors to make this a reality. I am driven by purpose, trying to bring some good into people’s lives, and really do believe the Youth Zone will be a life-changing space for many of Preston’s young people. I am looking forward to working alongside other youth service partners in the city to give our young people the support and life chances they deserve.” 

A product of youth work himself, Tim attended scouts for several years and still remains in contact with his scout leaders who had such a positive influence on his life. He is also a keen drummer and has played in many local bands over many years, including at Preston Carnival with the Jalgo’s Steel Band. He hopes that Preston Youth Zone will be able to provide thousands of young people with the opportunity to try new things which they might otherwise not have the chance to try.  

He said:

“Drumming for me is like therapy. I call it ‘noisy mindfulness’, I can switch off from everything. I am really looking forward to being able to provide young people in Preston with the chance to experience similar things within the Youth Zone. The music studio will have everything from drums to guitars to mixing decks, and it will be amazing for young people to try these activities, some for the first time, and experience the additional benefits creative activities can bring. Each space will be run by committed youth workers who will be able to provide young people with guidance and support too.” 

We are developing the youth centre in partnership with Preston City Council, the Towns Fund and the DCMS’s Youth Investment Fund. Other key supporters include BAE Systems, Pringle Homes and Bespoke Healthcare.  

The Youth Zone will be an independent charity with a private-sector led board, and once opened will be part of our Network of 14 Youth Zones nationwide, supporting over 55,000 young people annually. 

A local Young People’s Development Group (YPDG) has been helping to make a number of key decisions for the youth centre. One of those roles is interviewing potential new staff members, including Tim.   

Welcoming him into position, Preston’s YPDG said:

“It’s great that Tim is from Preston as he understands the local challenges that young people will be facing and is driven to make the Youth Zone a success. We’re happy that Tim was successful as he is positive and passionate about Preston and its young people.” 

Preston Youth Zone Chair, Guy Topping added:

“I am delighted to welcome Tim to the Preston team. Tim brings a wealth of experience, an in-depth understanding of the local area and most importantly, a true commitment to improving the lives of Preston’s young people. The Youth Zone will be in very safe hands, and I am pleased we have now started building the team that will open the Youth Zone in 2025.”  

Prior to Preston opening in 2025, Tim will spend time getting to know the role including through a placement at Blackburn & Darwen Youth Zone. He will also grow his team ready for opening and recruitment will continue later this year.