Coming Soon! Carlisle Youth Zone

The Carlisle Youth Zone is a wonderful opportunity coming to Carlisle very soon. At the end of April this year the Carlisle Youth Zone will be open to people all over Carlisle, from ages 8-21, and 25 for  people with learning disabilities. The Youth Zone has been developed by a new North West charity called OnSide and is the first of five Youth Zone’s opening across the North West of England. In 2005 the charity secured almost £5million of capital funding from the Myplace programme, which is funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund. The Carlisle Youth Zone is based on the success of the Bolton Lads and Girls club and is being backed by some of Carlisle’s biggest names; such as Eddie Stobart and Andrew Tinkler.
YZ is a chance for people all over Carlisle to have somewhere to go, whether it’s because the weather is doing its usual thing or they’re just bored of the same old activities.
The Youth Zone will have no less than 25 activities going on at a time and these will include the Junior and Senior clubs, summer holiday clubs to keep everyone entertained, a boxing club with equipment , martial arts, a gym, sports club, the neighbouring climbing wall, part of the neighbouring astro-turf, a  dance and theatre area, a recording/radio studio, an enterprise centre for business development oppertunities, open space where people can organise their own games and activities, Wi-Fi which is open to anyone,  various games consoles such as the Wii, Xbox and Playstation and finally a coffee bar/ cafe area filled with food. Once the Youth Zone is opened the team there will be trying to get a feel for what works around the place and what they need to add in or take away, so once it’s open everyone get in there and see what you think.
The Youth Zone is also an exciting prospect for people to gain experience and volunteer, anyone over the age of 16 is welcome to volunteer at the Youth Zone it’s not only great for you but for the people you would be helping every time you visit. People can volunteer to do almost anything, such as youth work, arts, sport, mentoring and office related work. Anything you want to do propose it to the team there and they always seem happy to help you.
The 50 pence entry to the Youth Zone means that you can do anything that’s going on at the time, .
One member of our ABSTRACT team said “It’s the best thing to happen to Carlisle for a long time.”  And there is most definitely an overwhelming amount of evidence to support that idea; the people who have been helping to develop the Youth Zone are in fact youth, rather than a group of people who think they know what the youth want. So far this is working in the Youth Zone’s favour as they have a wonderful array of activities that are hopefully going to make the Youth Zone a great place that works in Carlisle’s favour.
This group of young people have been involved in deciding what the Youth Zone is going to include, what the rules are going to be and figuring out ways to advertise the Youth Zone and inform people about it. This has helped the Youth Zone’s chief executive to make the big decisions; Sue Pennycook has taken on the rather fitting role as she has previously worked on similar projects to help transform the lives of young people.



I got the chance to ask Sue some questions:

What do you think the Youth Zone will be able to bring to the young people in and around Carlisle?

“More choice I hope.  We are planning activities with young people and making sure we know what else is going on so that as much as possible we provide different, new and additional activities.”

What opportunities will there be for young people to get involved with the community and how do you think these will help young people? 

“How do you plan to develop the Youth Zone further once it’s open?  Well our Board of Directors are brave, they are not putting us under pressure to be measured only in numbers, but recognise that CYZ needs time to grow organically.  This means paying close attention to what young people want CYZ to be, but also knowing our place in a raised offer for young people in Carlisle and surrounding areas.  My hope is that CYZ becomes a place that helps young people understand and reach their potential.”

And finally what have you enjoyed most about being a part of the Youth Zone?

“Without a doubt, the people involved.  Talented directors, committed staff, volunteers and of course young people.”

The Youth Zone is a fantastic opportunity and we wish all the team there the best of luck with this project. I’ll be down there as soon as it opens, why don’t you come too? Maybe you’ll find something new to do, you never know.

By Katy Pearce