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History made as work begins on Future Youth Zone

The Lady Mayoress, Aldermen Peter Estlin and William Russell joined OnSide Youth Zone for the first ground-breaking celebration in London.

History has been made after a spade went into the ground to officially start work on London’s first ever OnSide Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham.

The Youth Zone’s Chair Charles Mindenhall was joined by Barking and Dagenham Council Leader Darren Rodwell, the facility’s funders and other dignitaries, including West Ham captain Mark Noble, at a special ground-breaking celebration on cutting the first sod with a giant spade on Parsloes Park.

Opening in 2019, the £6million centre will boast a wide array of world-class facilities and activities from sports in the four-court sports hall, martial arts room and 3G kick pitch; to art, drama, music, cooking and enterprise and employability opportunities.

Young people aged between eight and 19 – and those up to 25 with additional needs – will pay just 50p per visit and £5 for an annual membership.

Built on the successful OnSide model, half of the Youth Zone’s construction costs will come from Barking and Dagenham Council with the Jack Petchey Foundation and the Queen’s Trust both contributing £1.5million each.

Youth Zone Chair Charles Mindenhall said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to put the spade in the ground and get to work building this amazing OnSide Youth Zone for the young people of Barking and Dagenham, the first of its kind in London. 

“This is a momentous day for the OnSide charity. We always tell people that Youth Zones offer young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to but they are so much more than that and I can’t wait to see the whole borough benefit from this wonderful facility.”