National youth charity, OnSide has received planning approval for a new Youth Zone in Preston. The state-of-the-art youth centre will provide 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.
Expected to open in 2025, the Youth Zone will be located in the town centre on the corner of Crooked Lane and Tithebarn Street. Preston Youth Zone will be open to young people aged 8-19, and up to 25 for those with additional needs, 7 days a week.
For just £5 annual membership, plus 50p per visit, young people will have access to world class facilities including a four-court sports hall, rooftop 3G outdoor kick pitch, gym and boxing and martial arts room for sports, as well as a music room with a built-in recording studio, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, dance studio, sensory room, and mentoring kitchen.
The Youth Zone will deliver skills and employability workshops in a dedicated enterprise and employability suite, as well as a wide range of programmes, services and activities. Hot, nutritious meals will be available for just £1 from the Youth Zone’s café.
In addition to the incredible facilities, trained youth workers and dedicated volunteers will be available seven days a week to offer guidance and support to help Preston’s young people to thrive. It will create a number of full and part-time jobs and many volunteering opportunities.
Preston Youth Zone is being delivered by OnSide, in partnership with Preston City Council and Preston Towns Fund Board who will be contributing towards the building and running costs. In March it was confirmed that the Youth Zone will receive a grant from the DCMS’ Youth Investment Fund which means all of the building costs have now been secured and focus will turn to raising the remainder of the running costs which will come from private sector and philanthropic donations.
It will join the OnSide network of 14 similar Youth Zones supporting over 50,000 young people with locations in Bolton, Blackburn, Carlisle, Wigan, Manchester, Oldham, Wolverhampton, Wirral, Chorley, Warrington, Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Croydon and East Manchester.
While OnSide will develop and oversee the build of the Youth Zone, once open it will be run as an independent, local charity with a private-sector-led board.
Guy Topping, Preston Youth Zone Chair said: “This is an important milestone in the Preston Youth Zone journey and exciting news for young people living in Preston and beyond. Preston Youth Zone is a local, inspirational charity that will provide thousands of young people with access to activities, opportunities, and support from trusted youth workers.
“So much hard work has gone into getting us to this point and I want to thank everybody who has helped make this dream a reality”.
Councillor David Borrow, Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation at Preston City Council said: “This is a major step forward for the project and will be a fantastic boost for youth services in the city. There has been nowhere for our young people to go before now and with a wide variety of sports and art activities, educational and skills support on offer, all at low cost, there will be something for everyone.
“Youth Zones in other towns and cities across the country have had a huge positive benefit and we can’t wait for construction to finally get underway. It is testament to the dedication and hard work of all involved who have turned the vision into reality.”
John Chesworth, Chair of Preston Towns Fund Board, said: “The Youth Zone will be a fantastic asset for young people in Preston. Not only will it provide a place for young people to go, but it’ll also provide a vital function in providing practical support, advice and guidance to help young people plan for their future.
“Preston Youth Zone is one of six key projects that we are delivering within Harris Quarter, which we are confident will be the catalyst for Preston’s wider renaissance and bring additional investment into the City.”
Councillor Jennifer Mein, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing at Preston City Council concluded: “The Youth Zone will play an important role in building community cohesion and providing our young people with access to vital support services that’ll help with mental health and general wellbeing.
“In addition, it’ll also ensure our young people remain fit and healthy. It’ll give them access to a wide range of sporting activities that are shown to help bring people together. It’s impact will be far ranging.”
Nick Temple, CEO for Social Investment Business said: “The Youth Investment Fund is enabling more young people to benefit from the life-changing impact of youth work across England, giving them the best opportunities to thrive.
“It’s hugely exciting to see the Onside Preston Youth Zone project coming to life, it’s one of the first projects to benefit from the Youth Investment Fund. With planning secured, it means a brand-new youth centre is now in sight. It’s an exciting day for young people across Preston, who can look forward to exciting new opportunities to help expand their horizons, have fun, and develop vital skills for life.”
Local young people will have the opportunity to get involved in helping to shape their new Youth Zone. Working in partnership with the council and existing providers, OnSide will set up a Young People’s Development Group of local young people who will meet regularly to make key decisions for the Youth Zone, including supporting with the design and branding, and interviewing potential staff members.
For further updates on progress visit Onside Youth Zones.
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