Stage set for Basildon Youth Zone

The establishment of a Youth Zone in Basildon will take another step forward on August 6 with Basildon councillors set to consider a preferred site alongside a new way engaging young people to help shape future services.

The Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee will consider putting into place measures to reach out to young people across the borough, especially in towns further away from Basildon town centre.

The proposal includes establishing a new way of getting in touch with young people to better understand their challenges and hopes, particularly over the last few months and help shape youth provision in the borough.

Councillor David Harrison, Chair of the Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee, said: “A Youth Zone will provide young people across the borough somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.

“The goal is to make sure access to the Youth Zone site is possible across the borough before any final decisions are made, and of course to guide the process through the lenses of the young people who will use the service.

“Since the last committee report in March 2020, council officers have been appraising potential sites for the Youth Zone in the borough—and now we have one in mind that looks very good.

“It is not council owned and so we’re going to consider the viability of the site, and look to begin communicating with the landowners about the next steps to get a Youth Zone in place.

Councillor Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council, said: “Access to high quality youth provision has perhaps never been more important than now as the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in severe upheaval for the whole community, with young people and low income families particularly affected.

“We’re working hard to regenerate the borough along with people’s belief in it; a big part of that is raising young peoples’ aspirations so they can reach their full potential and play a major part in the future success of the borough.”

The council has been working with national charity OnSide to explore opportunities to develop a Youth Zone in the Basildon borough. Youth Zones aim to be safe, supportive and affordable places where young people can spend their free time constructively. Local young people are involved in the naming, branding and interior design of each new Youth Zone.

Targeting young people aged 8-19, and up to 25 with additional needs, Youth Zones provide large-scale multi-activity facilities which typically include multi-use 3G pitches, indoor sports hall, climbing wall, gym, music, dance and performing arts facilities and a café. They also contain flexible spaces that can respond to young people’s changing needs and preferences.

OnSide work in partnership with local authorities, charitable trusts and businesses to provide both capital and revenue funding for each facility. OnSide now operates a national network of Youth Zones with 14 in operation.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]