Construction is now underway on Warrington Youth Zone with Warrington Borough Council and other funders celebrating the landmark moment.
The £6.9million facility is being made possible thanks to the Council’s incredible support, which includes the donation of the Foundry Street land and over half of the building costs.
Council Leader Cllr Russ Bowden, CEO Steven Broomhead and Cllr Jean Carter, trustee of Warrington Youth Zone, attended a socially distanced ground-breaking ceremony at the site, as did many of the Youth Zone’s funders.
Warrington Youth Zone will build upon the historic legacy set by Warrington Youth Club, which currently operates out of The Peace Centre and will move its services to the new facility.
The Youth Zone is being developed by the national charity OnSide Youth Zones and will be run as an independent charity within the ever-growing OnSide network.
Its funding model is based on that of the other 13 OnSide Youth Zones across the country.
This is a unique partnership of the private sector, local authority, young people (via their £5 membership and 50p admission fees) and the community that forms a dynamic four-way, inter-connecting relationship.
This will not only drive the success of the Youth Zone, but will ensure its sustainability.
In more simple times, a grand ground-breaking ceremony would have marked the beginning of the construction. Instead Warrington Youth Zone CEO Dave McNicholl welcomed many of the charity’s funders to the site individually throughout the day.
He said: “For Warrington Borough Council and many of our donors, this day has been a long time coming and it was great to welcome them to the site and see their faces as the vision they had invested into became a physical reality.
“I cannot thank each and every one of them enough. What they are helping create will transform and enhance the lives of thousands of young people in Warrington.
“Our incredible universal offer will be for young people across the whole of Warrington and will provide so many more opportunities for them as well as an incredible network of support, which young people need now more than ever.”
Bosses from Britplas attended the ceremony. The business is one of many that is contributing to the charity’s annual running costs – a group known as Founder Patrons.
Group Managing Director John Blackwell and Chairman Kevin Gorman said: “We are extremely proud to be a Founder Patron for Warrington Youth Zone. As a local business, we believe it is so important to invest in the town’s young people and help ensure they have the brightest possible future.
“A facility such as an OnSide Youth Zone will help give them that. Being able to support such a fantastic charity, which will offer so many inspiring and wonderful facilities and activities, means we are not only giving back, but part of a Founder Patron community that is also making a difference.
“We are so excited to see building work begin and see this vision become a reality, the plans look amazing. We were told that this facility would be world class and you can tell that it absolutely will be.
“We would really encourage any other Warrington business thinking of supporting this project to do so – you will be helping to transform so many young lives.”
Once open, the Youth Zone will offer young people aged 7-19, and up to 25 for those with additional needs, over 20 activities every day of the week.
Sports will include a four-court sports hall, a multi-use rooftop 3G pitch, a martial arts room, state-of-the-art gym and giant climbing wall.
There will also be a music room with a recording booth, dance studio, arts and crafts areas and a multimedia suite.
When young people pay their 50p entry fee, the first space they walk into will be a large, open plan recreation area, kitted out with table tennis and pool tables with plenty of room for other activities and areas to sit and chill out with friends. There will also be a café, serving hot and nutritious meals for as little as £1 and a designated teaching kitchen where young people will have the opportunity to learn how to cook a wide range of dishes.
Young people are already at the heart of the project, forming a Young People’s Development Group to help with some of its key decision making.
Member Izzy Murphy said: “Warrington Youth Zone will give an even bigger opportunity to lots more young people to come and experience what we have. People will be able to meet new people, make new friends and it’ll help people get on the right path.
“Through the Development Group, I’ve worked on the branding for the Youth Zone and have been able to travel and visit other OnSide Youth Zones. I’ve been able to share my experiences with other people.”.
For more information about supporting Warrington Youth Zone, email firstname.lastname@example.org.