Mayor of London praises 'amazing' Future Youth Zone
PUBLISHED: 18:00 20 August 2019
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has hailed the "amazing" work being done at the Future Youth Zone.
During Tuesday's visit to the Dagenham venue, which coincided with the announcement of a £1.4million violence reduction unit (VRU) fund, he met with staff and some of the 4,000 young members to chat to them about the opportunities offered.
Mr Khan sat in on a pottery session, where eight to 12-year-olds involved in the school holiday club told him about the activities on offer, including cooking, dancing and sport.
He then joined in with cricket practice in the sports hall, batting and bowling with children, before speaking to older members about how the youth centre provided them with somewhere to go.
"I'm really excited to see how young people here have constructive things to do," Mr Khan told the Post.
"It's a good example of the potential in our young people, if they are given the right systems, to have that potential fulfilled."
He explained that the VRU money will be distributed to around 40 community projects across the capital to deliver support and diversionary activities for 25,000 young Londoners over the next 12 months.
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"We know the best way to stop violent crime is to prevent it happening in the first place," Mr Khan added.
"It's part of a package of measures we're doing to give young people constructive things to do so they have an alternative pathway from joining a criminal gang or getting involved in serious youth violence."
Zakaria Hussain, head of youth work at Future Youth Zone, said Mr Khan's visit could help inspire young people to see opportunities beyond the borough.
"It's important that the decision makers come and see for themseleves what this is all about," he added.
And the success of Future Youth Zone means the model is set to be replicated elsewhere in Barking and Dagenham, according to council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell.
"Our long term aim is to have three of these in the borough," he explained. "This one in the centre, one in the north and one in the south.
"We have earmarked a potential site in the south of the borough, south of the A13.
"There are a lot of young people living there, but to get to this centre, it's either two buses or a bus and a train.
"Our third one will be in the Chadwell Heath or Marks Gate area."