West Ham skipper speaks in support of a Basildon Youth Zone

Mick Ferris

A state-of-the-art facility that could transform the lives of thousands of the borough’s young people has been given a celebrity endorsement from West Ham United captain Mark Noble.

Basildon Council has pledged support for the creation of a Youth Zone, which would be the first of its kind in the region.

A special event was held last night at the Holiday Inn, Basildon, where the Hammers’ legend spoke passionately about the benefits of a Youth Zone to the borough.

Also speaking at the event was Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of Sport England, representatives from OnSide, Basildon Council chief executive, Scott Logan and council leader, Councillor Gavin Callaghan.

Mark Noble spoke as part of a Q&A session with 17-year-old chair of the Basildon Borough Youth Council, Sekemi Bamidele.

He recalled his days attending his local youth facility in East London and how playing football there remains his fondest memories of playing the game.

He said: “I had the pleasure of opening the Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham and I am fully on board with one in Basildon. I can’t see the downside of making this happen. In such a small space a Youth Zone can make a big difference.

“I spent most of my time in a youth club after school which didn’t have the facilities that a Youth Zone has but the staff were great people. If this can happen for Basildon it’ll be a good deed for the borough.”

Cllr Callaghan said: “These Youth Zones are the very best on offer.

“I have seen for myself how they can motivate and inspire, bringing the community together to support the next generation. The evidence is clear – Youth Zones work.

“I believe a Basildon Youth Zone will prove a game changer for young people and for our borough.”

Scott Logan added: “As champion for the Active Essex Local Delivery pilot, I have a particular interest in increasing physical activity, particularly among young people living in some of the more disadvantaged areas of our borough.

“It is so important that we encourage and support our young people to develop the habits and motivations that get – and keep – them active and healthy throughout their adult lives.

“OnSide Youth Zones can make a massive contribution to this goal.”

Members of Basildon Council’s Neighbourhoods and Public Spaces Committee will be asked to endorse the proposal to develop an OnSide Youth Zone in the borough at a meeting on Wednesday March 11.

Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk