Inside Dagenham's Future Youth Zone set to be opened by Prince Harry
PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:13 11 April 2019
This is the new youth centre set to welcome Prince Harry tomorrow.
The Duke of Sussex is set to officially open the Future Youth Zone, on the corner of Parsloes Park, tomorrow (Thursday) – and the Post went along to get a preview of the venue that intends to welcome 4,000 children and young people in its first year.
Chief executive Gavin Evans said: “I would have loved to have had something like this when I was young.
“Within a year, we expect to get about 4,000 members and have about 1,500 visiting each week.”
The centre will be open from 4pm during term time and longer during the weekends and school holidays.
Gavin explained that it would also offer a school holiday programme for eight to 12-year-olds – known as junior members – that would run from 8am until 6pm and provide an affordable childcare option for working parents.
As well as a range of activities designed to cater for different interests, Future Youth Zone has its own canteen where youngsters can buy a healthy hot meal for just £1.
“Our food offer is just as important as our physical offer,” he said.
“It’s about supporting young people to make healthy choices and learn to cook healthy meals.”
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The centre has a kitchen where members can take part in cookery classes and has been designed to be accessible to all, with one oven at a higher level to allow wheelchair users or people with other mobility issues to use it.
Cooking is just one of the many interests youngsters can pursue.
Sporting activities include a climbing wall, skateboarding ramps, a 3G football pitch and a boxing ring, as well as a gym and a sports hall.
Some of these will be coordinated by external partners.
“We realise that we’re a different part of something that’s going on in the community,” he said.
“It’s not just about opening the zone and being the only thing for young people. It’s really important that we work with others.”
For those looking for something a bit more relaxed, there are rooms for both playing and recording music, a dance studio and arts and craft sessions.
These are the responsibility of arts coordinator Amber Reed, one of around 50 employees at Future Youth Zone.
“We are going to have 20 or more activities each night,” she said. “There will be different ones each day of the week.”
Membership costs £5 for the year and there is a 50p charge per visit. For more information and to sign up, visit futureyouthzone.org