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Rodwell calls on government for more youth centres in Barking and Dagenham

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 September 2019 | UPDATED: 12:19 02 September 2019

Council leader Darren Rodwell at the opening of the Future Youth Zone. Picture: Ken Mears

Council leader Darren Rodwell at the opening of the Future Youth Zone. Picture: Ken Mears

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Borough council leader Darren Rodwell has called on the government to help build more youth centres in Barking and Dagenham.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid was given a tour and met with staff and young people during a visit to Future Youth Zone in Dagenham. Picture: OnSide Youth Zones.Home Secretary Sajid Javid was given a tour and met with staff and young people during a visit to Future Youth Zone in Dagenham. Picture: OnSide Youth Zones.

It follows the successful launch of the borough's first Youth Zone, a £6.15million centre providing activities at a low cost to young people.

In a letter to chancellor Sajid Javid and home secretary Priti Patel, Cllr Rodwell throws down the gauntlet and asks what government can do to help.

He said: "There is huge potential in tackling serious youth violence and anti-social behaviour as part of preparing young people for the life ahead of them.

"Our success in Barking and Dagenham was made possible by listening to our young people rather than falling back on a traditional criminal justice approach.

"With both the chancellor and the home secretary visiting our Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham and seeing for themselves the amazing work we're doing, my question to them is, what can the government bring to the table to help develop this network across London, and elsewhere across the country?"

Speaking at an event at the Youth Zone on August 20 with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Cllr Rodwell said he wants three of the youth centres in the borough.

The goal is for every child to have easy access to one.

Cllr Rodwell added that land has been earmarked for a second YZ in the south of Barking and Dagenham, below the A13.

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The third is planned for Chadwell Heath or Marks Gate.

Around 4,500 young people have signed up as members to the Dagenham Youth Zone, 20 per cent of those are on free school meals.

It was officially opened on April 11 by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The Youth Zone can offer shelter and activities for 300 young people every night and total visits have topped 20,000 in the two months since opening.

Sessions are on offer seven days a week and start at just 50p.

Financial support comes from local authorities, philanthropists, businesses, charitable grants and money generated by the Youth Zones.

The Dagenham Youth Zone was the first in London, but one has since opened in Croydon and a facility is in the works in Barnet.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The Home Secretary was impressed by the centres during her recent visit and we recognise the value of these kinds of projects in steering young people away from crime.

"Through our Serious Violence Strategy we are investing over £220 million in early intervention projects to help young people lead positive lives, free from violence."

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