Basildon Council Leader, Councillor Gavin Callaghan, has pledged to support the creation of a multi-million pound state-of-the-art Youth Zone for Basildon borough in his budget proposals for 2020/21.

Youth Zones are developed by national charity OnSide in partnership with local councils, young people and the local community. They are designed to give young people aged 8-19, or up to 25 for those with a disability, somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to - occupying their bodies and minds with engaging activities, helping them develop new skills and socialise in a safe, positive and accessible environment.

More than 38,000 members are making around 500,000 visits to OnSide's existing network of 13 Youth Zones every year. They are drawn by the array of activities and support on offer seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, from DJ'ing to climbing, basketball coaching through to support into employment.

Young people who attend OnSide's network of Youth Zones say how they improve their educational attainment, build their confidence and aspirations, and increase their levels of physical activity. Evidence from OnSide Youth Zones in other parts of the country suggests that they can also improve the quality of the local environment, make communities feel safer and reduce antisocial behaviour.

"Time and again people are telling me across our borough there needs to be more on offer for young people," Cllr Callaghan said. "We have listened and we have scoured the country for solutions that are proven to make a real difference to young people's lives and opportunities. I believe OnSide's Youth Zones are the very best on offer young people. With the right support from our community, our businesses and our councillors, we can make build a Youth Zone right here in Basildon borough. That facility would be designed with local young people with their needs at its heart.

"I have seen for myself how Youth Zones can motivate and inspire young people and bring the community together to support the next generation. The evidence is clear - Youth Zones work - and I think a Basildon Youth Zone will prove a game changer for young people in this borough."

Cllr Callaghan will be inviting businesses, service providers and community leaders to hear more about the plans to develop the first Youth Zone for Essex in Basildon borough and meet those who are already involved in running successful Youth Zones in January. He will be including funding to support a Basildon Youth Zone in the 2020/21 budget he will be asking councillors to support in the New Year.

To find out more about OnSide Youth Zones go to www.onsideyouthzones.org

ENDS

Published on Friday 20 December 2019