OnSide Youth Zones, established in 2008, has been growing rapidly and has ambitious plans to create 100 Youth Zones in towns and cities giving young people somewhere safe and inspiring to go in their leisure time. Youth Zones are high quality, inspirational and well run places offering young people ‘somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to’ on an incredible scale. OnSide has already raised over £70 million of funding and the success of the Youth Zones has attracted recognition in national and local government circles. There are eight open Youth Zones in the OnSide network. OnSide’s role is both to support these Youth Zones and create new Youth Zones across the UK – the next of which include three in the London areas of Barking and Dagenham, Barnet and Croydon, all due to open in 2018.
Each Youth Zone starts with a £6 million capital project, and goes on to be an independent charity, open seven days a week, with state-of-the-art facilities, delivering over 20 sporting, artistic, cultural and general recreational activities and targeted services. OnSide is becoming more and more successful at achieving this as it grows in experience; the powerful story told by each open Youth Zone is invaluable. At the heart of OnSide Youth Zones is a successful partnership between public, private and third sector organisations, the local community and young people themselves. From the building design through to the activities on offer, Youth Zones are shaped directly by the young people and communities which they benefit. This relevance and sense of ownership has been central to creating the level of attendance and engagement needed to deliver valuable outcomes.