WEST Youth Zone is now OPEN!

WEST Youth Zone is now officially open after a spectacular celebration on Sunday 21 April.

Over 1,100 members of the community joined us to celebrate this incredible occasion with our amazing Young People’s Development Group cutting the ribbon to mark the Youth Zone now being open seven days a week.

The day took a special festival theme – WESTival – with young people and their families invited to sample all of the Youth Zone’s incredible facilities and activities as well as meeting members of our wonderful team.

We also welcomed our friends from QPR with first team players Jimmy Dunne and Lucas Anderson also stopping by, while Hammersmith and Fulham Council Leader Cllr Steven Cowan spoke of his pride at seeing WEST open.

With over 700 members already signed up, young people can now access WEST every day of the week. Annual membership costs just £5 and young people then pay 50p each time they visit, which will give them access to everything on offer that session.

Click here to sign up as a member and here to see our session times.

WEST set for Grand Opening

WEST Youth Zone will open with a special festival style party on Sunday 21 April.

Starting at 12pm, all of WEST’s activity spaces will be OPEN and the whole community is invited to come along and see what we’ll have on offer.

There’ll be a special ribbon cutting ceremony in our Rec Area at 2pm to mark this special day.

Afterwards, the Youth Zone will belong to our young people and will be open seven days a week. Check our session times here.

Membership at WEST is just £5 per year and then only 50p each time young people come to the Youth Zone, gaining them access to every activity we have on offer. You can beat the rush and sign up here.

Prince of Wales visits WEST Youth Zone

The Prince of Wales paid a special visit to WEST, the new OnSide Youth Zone in Hammersmith and Fulham, on Thursday 14 March.

The Prince enjoyed a tour of the new building, hosted by WEST’s CEO Elanor Gunn and Chair Mark Davies. He met with a number of young people, including members of the Youth Zone’s Young People’s Development Group – a group of volunteers aged between 12 and 18, who played a key role in the Youth Zone’s development. As well as being involved in different elements of the Youth Zone’s design, they also helped with staff interviews and developing the brand ‘WEST’, which stands for ‘Where Everyone Sticks Together’.

During the visit the Prince saw young people taking part in a number of the activities the Youth Zone will offer, including climbing, art and multimedia. The Prince was also invited to join in a game of basketball and help with some biscuit decorating before meeting some of the Youth Zone’s supporters. 

WEST will officially open on 21 April. It will offer a range of facilities including a gym, rooftop football pitch, music room with recording studio, boxing and martial arts room as well as enterprise and employability workshops – seven days a week to young people aged eight to 19 (or up to 25 for those with additional needs). It will also offer young people access to a team of dedicated, trained youth workers, providing vital support and a listening ear.

In line with the successful OnSide Youth Zone model, WEST is funded through a mixture of public and private sector contributions including businesses and philanthropic donations. The Youth Zone will work in strategic partnership with other local organisations to support young people in West London. It will be run as a local, independent charity and will be part of EdCity, which is being developed by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and education charity Ark and will also include a new school, nursery, adult education centre and affordable housing.  

WEST Youth Zone has been developed by OnSide, a national youth charity that builds and supports state of the art youth centres called Youth Zones in some of the UK’s most economically disadvantaged areas. The Prince was able to hear more about the work happening across the OnSide Network, which includes 14 other open Youth Zones, with a further seven currently in development. Before leaving the Youth Zone, the Prince was joined by young people to unveil a plaque commemorating his visit.

WEST CEO Elanor Gunn said: “We were delighted to welcome His Royal Highness to WEST Youth Zone to show him our fantastic new building and introduce him to our incredible and passionate staff team and young people. We can’t wait to open our doors to thousands of young people from across West London – today marks the start of a really exciting story. We are so grateful to our supporters for making this a reality.”

OnSide CEO Jamie Masraff said: “We are incredibly proud of WEST Youth Zone, so it was fantastic to have the opportunity to showcase it. A huge thank you to the Prince of Wales for taking the time to come and see our amazing new Youth Zone, which will help transform the lives of thousands of West Londoners through the power of youth work.”

Photos: Radski Photo

Supporters have a “SNEAK PEEK” at WEST Youth Zone 

Our team at WEST was delighted to welcome our supporters and guests for an exclusive look at our amazing new building at our Sneak Peek event on Thursday 25th January. 

Ahead of the WEST team moving into their new home, the incredible people who have made this dream a reality were invited to see what is in store for West London’s young people.

The group, which included all our amazing supporters, enjoyed a tour of the WEST building and met our full team for the first time. Our passionate Youth Work Team discussed the exciting plans for their dedicated spaces and gave insight into the next steps ahead of our grand opening, with that date soon to be announced. 

WEST CEO, Elanor Gunn, hosted a Q+A with a panel of key members of the Youth Zone. The discussion was fizzing with excitement of what WEST will become soon and reassured our funders the reasons why they are supporting us. Our event concluded with delicious food courtesy of Shepherd’s Bush Market, a partnership we are super proud of!

WEST Youth Zone will cost young people just £5 annual membership and then only 50p per visit, something that is not possible without the incredible support of this amazing group of people. Other than construction costs, it takes £1.7 million a year for day to day running costs. It is essential we can fund this, through a diverse range of funding from organisations, philanthropists, local businesses, trusts and foundations as well as Hammersmith and Fulham Council. 

WEST’s growing team will soon move into the Youth Zone and will host a series of events and taster sessions ahead of our opening day. This will trigger the start of our universal, open access offer seven days a week.

If you are interested in making a difference in West London’s young people and joining this incredible group of supporters, please contact Tanya at tanya.cohen@westyouthzone.org.

Click here to see the latest employment opportunities at WEST and here to find out more about volunteering.

Volunteer at WEST Youth Zone

Want to do something truly amazing in 2024? Why not volunteer for WEST Youth Zone?

We are today launching out volunteer recruitment campaign as we prepare to move into our new home early in the New Year.

WEST is going to be a truly special place for young people with so many amazing facilities and activities, from sport to music, art to climbing, and cooking to dancing – it will have everything young people want and more!

But what will make the Youth Zone truly special is the incredible staff and volunteers inside it that support young people, helping them engage with new activities but also supporting them, be that through employability courses, their mental health or just providing a friendly face for a conversation.

Our staff team is already growing but there will also be space in the Youth Zone for those who want to give their time to help young people.

We have volunteering opportunities across all our youth work spaces. You may want to support on our rooftop MUGA or in the Sports Hall, maybe you cen help in a music session or just play some table tennis in our Rec Area and become a positive role model for young people.

As well as youth work opportunities, you could also volunteer with our Facilities team or on reception – the possibilities are endless!

WEST Volunteer Coordinator Shineade Burton said: “Volunteering is an amazing thing to do and I’m really excited to start recruiting some truly special people who want to give their time to support our charity.

“There are lots of opportunities to get involved. As well supporting young people, it’s a great way to enhance your own skills – it can build confidence, improve communication skills and it’s an amazing thing to add to your CV.

“You don’t need any experience and we’ll provide all the training, so please get in touch to find out more.”

To find out more about volunteering, click here, or you can email Shineade at volunteer@westyouthzone.org.

GENERATION ISOLATION 2023: WEST CEO SAYS YOUTH CENTRES CAN GIVE YOUNG PEOPLE A WAY OUT OF COST-OF-LIVING LOCKDOWN

WEST Youth Zone has today responded to findings released by national youth charity OnSide that highlight the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on the out-of-school lives of young people, as well as the role youth centres play in giving them a way out of this ‘cost of living lockdown’.

Generation Isolation surveyed 5,072 young people, of which 536 were from London, aged 11-18 in England, in partnership with YouGov. Many of the findings are startling, highlighting how the cost-of-living crisis is keeping young people ‘locked down.’ 

The report’s key findings are:

  •  31% of 11-18 year olds London have stopped out-of-school activities like sport, dance and seeing friends because of the cost-of-living crisis – as families divert funds.
  • Young people are living isolated lives with an increasing number of young people London spending most of their free time on screens*, and 44% of young people spending most of their free time in their bedrooms. 
  • Young people are living in a challenging context with 73% concerned about the cost-of-living crisis.

WEST Youth Zone says that youth clubs like it are an untapped solution to the issues highlighted in the Generation Isolation report – because they give young people access to vital character-building opportunities and  affordable activities that boost confidence, buil  skills for adulthood and, through access to trusted youth workers, help them navigate the pressing challenges and worries they face such as the cost of living.

WEST will open next year in White City and CEO Elanor Gunn believes it will be a huge help to young people in the community.

“The report is really concerning and highlights the huge impact the cost of living crisis is having on young people in London,” she said. “From giving up hobbies and socializing with friends to worrying about their futures and becoming even more isolated. We need to make sure young people feel supported and have opportunities to express themselves and be around friends in a safe environment.

“The report shows the positive impact youth centres have and we’re really excited that WEST will open next year and will play a part in alleviating these stresses. We expect to work with over 4,000 young people in our first year alone. They’ll be able to showcase their talents with new opportunities, make friends and have fun.”

This is backed up by the Generation Isolation research which shows the positive effect attending a youth centre has on young people. 77% of young people who attend a youth centre in London say it has helped them overcome difficulties and 87% say it allows them to learn new skills. 

In addition the research highlights that young people who attend youth centres are better prepared for adulthood than those who don’t – just 13% of young people who attend youth  clubs said they do not have the opportunity to learn the skills to help them become independent like cooking, managing money, accessing employment, compared to 18% of all young people.

However, there is a lack of widespread opportunity to gain these benefits, with 47% of young people saying they do not have a youth club near them.

WEST Youth Zone will provide young people with seven days a week access to activities, opportunities and support from youth workers for just 50p a session and £5 a year membership.

It opens next Spring but there’s already a group of young people in a development group, helping to make a number of key decisions from branding to interior designs and interviewing potential staff members.

One of those young people is Abdulah, 13, from White City who said: “Me and my friends know about the cost of living and the increase in prices of food and heating bills. It’s talked about in the news and it has an impact on us. I’ve noticed that if you want to buy a snack after school the price might be 60p one week and then £1 the next week. That’s a big increase.

“My mum gives me pocket money if I behave well and do chores. It’s gone down from £10 a week to between £2 and £3.50 because she has to spend more money on food and heating and there are six of us in the family. I never ask for takeaways now because I know they cost a lot of money. Sometimes we have to turn the heating down.

“Specific games I might want to buy are too expensive now and certain after school things like going to a gym or accessing VR clubs would be too expensive. When WEST OnSide Youth Zone opens near us it will be 50p to go in and you can buy a hot meal for £1. At school that would be £2.50 and if you were eating out with your friends the bill might be £15 each. No one can afford that.

“WEST will also be a safe space to meet up. It can be dangerous to play out on the streets. It’s important to me to meet new people so you have a big circle of friends to share problems with and have fun with. The Youth Zone opening will make millions of difference to young people in White City.”

Lastly, Generation Isolation also highlights the mental health challenges faced by the region’s young people.  49% of young people in London report high or very high levels of anxiety**. When asked why, the top reasons were: worries about future (57%), exam pressure (38)%, what people think of them (34%).

To read the full Generation Isolation report, click here.

VIDEO: Development Group visits northern Youth Zones

Members of the WEST Young People’s Development Group traveled north over the half-term break to take a look at other OnSide Youth Zones in the North West.

Abdulah, Yaya and Pierson joined young people from the Horizon Youth Zone Young People’s Development Group in visiting Wigan Youth Zone, The Hive Youth Zone and Warrington Youth Zone.

The group enjoyed tours of the buildings before getting stuck into the sessions over the three evenings – even enjoying sleepovers at the Youth Zones with young ambassadors from each.

On top of sampling the sessions and seeing what’s to come for young people in Hammersmith and Fulham with WEST Youth Zone, the group had the opportunity to quiz OnSide’s Property and Construction team about the building itself. They also took a look at the layout of the Youth Zone to feed back ideas and take inspiration for some of the tasks they’ll have between now and opening, including designing walls for each of the rooms.

Activity-wise, archery, football and the sensory room were all highlights but undoubtedly the biggest opportunity was meeting members from each of the Youth Zones and seeing hundreds of young people engaging with youth workers and enjoying activities each evening.

Abdulah had the chance to sit down with Issy, a young leader and ambassador from The Hive, to ask her about her involvement and find out more about Youth Zones See the video below as well as a photo gallery from the visit:

Meet the WEST Young People’s Development Group

MEET the WEST Youth Zone Young People’s Development Group…

This amazing group is leading the way with the development of WEST Youth Zone.

Representing young people from across Hammersmith and Fulham, they are making a number of key decisions throughout the process from staff interviews to interior designs, from what goes on the hoardings around the building site to how we publicise what will be on offer.

A previous group of young people also developed the Youth Zone’s brand, naming our Youth Zone WEST, which stands for Where Everyone Sticks Together.

With the build well underway, the group is looking ahead as we take our pivotal next steps through staff recruitment and moving into our new home.

Watch the video above to hear more from the group and if you or a young person you know wants to get involved, email shineade.burton@onsideyouthzones.org.

Photo gallery: Steel frame complete

Construction on WEST Youth Zone has reached its first big landmark, with the completion of the building’s steel frame.

Contractors Bowmer and Kirkland began work on the Youth Zone, which is being developed by the national charity OnSide, earlier this year and it’s due to be completed late next year.

The development will continue with the floors, staircases and roofing in the coming months.

The White City site is a hive of activity, with construction also ongoing on the rest of the EdCity scheme, which the Youth Zone is a part of.

Once open, the Youth Zone will offer Hammersmith and Fulham’s young people a range of weekend and evening activities and opportunities, with facilities including a four-court sports hall, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, music room, dance studio, rooftop 3G pitch and much more, all for just £5 annual membership and 50p per visit. 

EdCity will bring significant improvements to the neighbourhood and will also include: 

  • A new, modern building for a new Ark primary school bringing together Ark Swift Primary Academy and Ark Burlington Danes.
  • Over 130 new affordable homes in an area of high housing need;  
  • A new building for Harmony Nursery. 
  • An expanded adult education and community learning centre providing training and learning opportunities for local residents.
  • A new 100,000sq ft office space for up to 1,000 jobs and a new permanent home for Ark and other organisations and businesses.
  • A new landscaped public square with a pedestrian and cycle route, directly linking existing residential areas to the redeveloped White City business and transport hubs. 

It’s been amazing to see the Youth Zone shoot up so quickly. There is obviously still some way to go with the build, but seeing the frame of the building really gives you an insight into its huge scale. Just to think that in little over a year’s time, it will be full of young people enjoying themselves, trying new activities, finding new talents and making friends, is fantastic.

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Mark Davies

Chair, WEST Youth Zone

The centre will be run as an independent charity and will become the 15th Youth Zone in OnSide’s growing network.

Before the pandemic, OnSide formed a Development Group consisting of local young people from Hammersmith and Fulham to make a number of key decisions for the Youth Zone. Their first job was to pick the centre’s name, WEST, standing for ‘Where Everyone Sticks Together’. 

OnSide is now looking to relaunch the group and is inviting any young person from the borough to sign up and be involved with other elements such as interior design, staff interviews, local promotion and much more.

Anyone interested should email shineade.burton@onsideyouthzones.org.

Supporters visit WEST Youth Zone site

Supporters of WEST Youth Zone were welcomed onto the construction site for a sneak peek at progress being made.

Guests were given an update by WEST Chair Mark Davies and OnSide Deputy Chief Executive Rob Carter about the project and Hammersmith & Fulham Council Leader Steve Cowan also spoke about why he believes the Youth Zone will transform lives.

WEST (which stands for Where Everyone Sticks Together) was given its name by local young people.

Once open, the Youth Zone will offer a range of weekend and evening activities and opportunities with facilities including a four-court sports hall, arts and crafts area, climbing wall, music room, dance studio and much more, all for just £5 annual membership and 50p per visit.

Also on site were representatives from Ark, including chief executive, Lucy Heller, to see the progress being made on the wider EdCity scheme which the Youth Zone is a part of.

Mark Davies, Chair of WEST Youth Zone, said: “We were delighted to welcome our wonderful supporters to the site and to see the great progress being made. EdCity is such an exciting project and we are really proud to be a part of it. WEST will transform the lives of thousands of young people, giving them an opportunity to find new skills, make new friends and seek support from dedicated youth workers.”

The scheme is being delivered by EdCity Development Ltd (ECDL) and funded by Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Ark, a national education charity with nine schools in West London. 

The scheme will bring significant improvements to the neighbourhood and include: 

  • a new, modern building for a new Ark primary school bringing together Ark Swift Primary Academy and Ark Burlington Danes;  
  • 132 new affordable homes in an area of high housing need;  
  • a state-of-the art OnSide Youth Zone called West providing activities and opportunities for local young people; 
  • a new building for Harmony Nursery;  
  • an expanded adult education and community learning centre providing training and learning opportunities for local residents;  
  • a new 100,000sq ft office space for up to 1,000 jobs and a new permanent home for Ark and other organisations and businesses;  
  • a new landscaped public square with a pedestrian and cycle route, directly linking existing residential areas to the redeveloped White City business and transport hubs. 

Work to clear and prepare the White City site began in the summer last year and construction work is being carried out by Bowmer & Kirkland. The completion of the first phase, including the opening of the new school, is due in September 2023. 

Ark CEO, Lucy Heller, said: “It is exciting to mark this moment at the start of construction of the new school and other community facilities. Ark has been part of the White City community for many years, and this development will bring tangible benefits to all.” 

Hammersmith and Fulham Council Leader Cllr Stephen Cowan said: “This project will deliver, for people of all ages in White City, the very best in education and training – to give them access to the most amazing business start-up and rapidly emerging hotspot for STEM, medicine, and media enterprises. This project brings tangible benefits to the local community, with a new school and nursery, a Youth Zone and improved adult education services. There will be new, affordable homes for local people, improvements to public areas and jobs will be relocated here. That is why we made a multi-million-pound investment, and I am delighted the work here is now under way.”

EdCity is an exciting addition to the White City Innovation District and was recently recognised in Upstream’s Impact and Innovation 110 organisations, The prestigious list highlights science, technology, and creative businesses such as Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, BBC Studios, The Royal College of Art, and Novartis UK, all local to Hammersmith and Fulham who are making a positive impact in their field.