Council Leader calls on government to fund more Youth Zones
The Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, has sent a passionate letter to both the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid MP and Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP, following a recent visit from the Home Secretary, urging action to be taken to help provide a network of Youth Zones up and down the country.
In May this year, Barking and Dagenham opened London’s first ever Youth Zone, Future Youth Zone, a state-of-the-art facility developed by the national charity for young people OnSide Youth Zones. OnSide raised the £6.15million construction costs for the facility, from funders including Barking and Dagenham Council, The Queen's Trust, the Jack Petchey Foundation, The Serioussi Foundation via Vistra Jersey and UBS Optimus Foundation and The Lord Mayor’s Appeal.
The facility provides a range of social and educational activities and a safe place to go for 300 young people every night. Since its opening, nearly 5,000 young people from the borough have signed up to become members, and visits in the first two months alone topped 20,000. The centre provides a lifeline to parents and young people alike, with sessions on offer seven days a week costing just 50p.
To fund the Youth Zone’s annual running costs, OnSide Youth Zones’ innovative multi-sector funding model combines contributions from local authorities, philanthropists, businesses, charitable grants and revenues generated by the Youth Zones themselves. Additional support is also provided by 35 local volunteers.
There is huge potential in tackling serious youth violence and anti-social behaviour as part of preparing young people for the life ahead of them.
Our success in Barking and Dagenham was made possible by listening to our young people rather than falling back on a traditional criminal justice approach.
Due to the success of Future Youth Zone, the appetite for another in Barking and Dagenham is on the table. Cllr Rodwell has been looking at ways of securing a second site in the borough and wants to push for a wider conversation about an infrastructure of Youth Zone funding to build more centres, that can benefit even more young people in the UK.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “There is huge potential in tackling serious youth violence and anti-social behaviour as part of preparing young people for the life ahead of them.
“Our success in Barking and Dagenham was made possible by listening to our young people rather than falling back on a traditional criminal justice approach.
“With both the Chancellor and the Home Secretary visiting our Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham and seeing for themselves the amazing work we’re doing, my question to them is, what can the government bring to the table to help develop this network across London, and elsewhere across the country?”