Frequently Asked Questions


What is Croydon Youth Zone?

Croydon Youth Zone will be a high quality facility open to all of the young people of the borough between the ages of 8 to 19, and up to 25 with disabilities or learning difficulties. It will be built at the junction of Boulogne Road and Whitehorse Road in Thornton Heath.

The Youth Zone will provide somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to for all the young people of Croydon.  It will complement and enhance existing provision for young people in terms of available activities. It will create opportunities for more of the borough’s young people, many of whom aren’t accessing the current provision. Croydon Youth Zone will engage and inspire young people to try positive new activities and raise their aspirations. The Youth Zone is based on the proven successful model of Bolton Lads & Girls Club and will open 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year.

Croydon Youth Zone’s opening hours during term-time mirror school timetables, typically opening from 4pm – 10pm from Monday to Friday, and until 10pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  During school holidays, additional junior sessions will run from 8am – 6pm, offering affordable holiday care for local parents.

Based on local demographics and experience elsewhere, OnSide has projected that around 1,500 young people will visit the Youth Zone each week.

How much will it cost to attend?

Annual membership for the Youth Zone will be £5, with each visit costing young people just 50p.

One critical factor in the success of the OnSide Youth Zone model is the voluntary relationship that exists between the Youth Zone and its members, i.e. the young people that attend do so because they choose to, and never because they have to.  This is key to developing positive, healthy relationships between young people and the staff and volunteers – which enables the Youth Zone to deliver high quality, engaging youth work to those that need it most.  It is also vital that the Youth Zone maintains its cover charge of 50p per session. Income from young people only amounts to around 10% of annual turnover but it is important as it creates a sense of value, ownership and equality.

What facilities will it have?

Croydon Youth Zone will be a purpose built facility offering 20 activities every session, including sport, fitness, dance, arts, music, media and self-improvement. The Youth Zone will include a four-court sports hall with facilities for indoor badminton, football, netball and basketball and a separate climbing wall. There will also be a fitness suite with the latest gym equipment and an outdoor kick pitch. The centre will include a kitchen and café area selling healthy food and drink, as well as dedicated areas for dance, music, film, and multi-media, arts and crafts, gaming and DJ-ing, martial arts and boxing.

How did it come about?

Croydon Council, in partnership with local business people, have seen the Youth Zone model in other towns and cities in England and want to give their young people access to a Youth Zone and the benefits it can bring for the whole community.  Croydon Youth Zone will be similar to OnSide’s existing facilities in Bolton, Carlisle, Oldham, Manchester, Blackburn, Wigan and Wolverhampton.

How is the Youth Zone being funded?

The Youth Zone project cost is estimated at £6million. As well as providing the site, Croydon Council agreed to an investment of £3.25million towards the Youth Zone construction costs as well as £300,000 towards the facility’s running costs per year.

OnSide has committed to securing a further £2.75million which will be combined with the Council funding to cover the construction and opening costs of the building as well as £1.8million to ensure the Youth Zone’s running costs are secured for the first three years. OnSide will raise these funds via its network of private sector supporters and charitable trusts and grants.

Together, the Council and OnSide will invest £9million in local children and young people over the first three years of operation.

When will the Youth Zone open?

Croydon Youth Zone is expected to open in 2018.

Why did you choose the proposed site in Thornton Heath?

OnSide is keen for the Youth Zone to be accessible for all young people across the borough. The junction of Boulogne Road and Whitehorse Road in Thornton Heath was chosen as the preferred site for the Youth Zone due to its accessibility and transport links. Consultation with young people is planned to make sure they are fully involved in the development of the project, from branding their Youth Zone to deciding on both interior and exterior features and the activities they want to take part in.

How much will it cost to run?

The annual running costs for the Youth Zone will be approximately £1million. This includes, for example, staffing costs, equipment, support for volunteers (including DBS checks), insurance, maintenance and utilities. The on-going financial support needed will be made up from a mixture of support from the private sector, charitable trusts and grants and members’ entry and membership fees.

How do we know the Youth Zone will be sustainable in the future?

The Youth Zone model is based on the successful Bolton Lads and Girls Club, where a combination of revenue streams, including private sector funding, ensures its sustainability and over time allows the income streams to grow and diversify steadily, increasing the Youth Zone offer. At the time of opening, OnSide ensures that each Youth Zone has three years revenue funding in place and this will be the case in Croydon.  This allows the new charity time to establish itself as a key part of the local youth offer and demonstrate the huge value it can provide to the lives of many of the borough’s young people. Over the first three years, the Youth Zone, supported by its private sector-led Board, will develop new income sources and partnerships to allow its income to grow, in the same way that all OnSide Youth Zones have grown.

Who will run Croydon Youth Zone?

A new charity is being formed called Croydon Youth Zone. The Board of Trustees will be private sector-led and made up of local business people and representatives from Croydon Council, who as volunteers will ensure the new charity delivers for the young people of Croydon.  A Chair, usually a successful local business person will lead the board of the Youth Zone. The day-to-day management of the Youth Zone will be the responsibility of a small team of paid staff, led by a General Manager.

The Youth Zone will create mixture of approximately 50 full and part-time local jobs and generate a minimum of 100 volunteering opportunities within the community.

What will happen to all the existing Youth Provision?

Croydon Youth Zone will act as a platform to help grow the total offer for young people, with the purpose of complementing and enhancing the council’s four existing youth hubs in the borough.

Youth Zones deliver the best service when they work in partnership with other local voluntary and statutory organisations. The Youth Zone might provide a new physical space for other organisations to deliver their activities or services to young people. Other local organisations find they can reach more young people through the Youth Zone membership.  Experience from existing facilities shows that the vast majority of Youth Zone members do not already access existing local youth provision. For those young people that do attend other local centres, the Youth Zone is seen as an additional offer, and not a replacement.  The Youth Zone alone will be open for approximately 46 hours per week, representing a significant increase in choice and availability for local children and young people.

Croydon Youth Zone is keen to work in partnership with as many existing youth groups as possible and Mark Blundell, OnSide’s Partnership Development and Community Engagement Manager is leading on this.  Anyone that would like to get involved, or know more, should contact Mark at: mark.blundell@onsideyouthzones.org or call 07734 889308.

Will young people from across Croydon mix together in the Youth Zone?

One of the major strengths of a Youth Zone is the way young people from different areas and backgrounds are able to mix in a neutral space. Evidence from existing Youth Zones suggests that members will mix with their peers from different backgrounds, as well as with young people from a range of local areas in the borough as long as the offer is good enough.

How will the Youth Zone provide services to young people with additional needs?

All Youth Zones provide for young people with a range of additional needs up to the age of 25, through inclusive ability sessions alongside the mainstream offer. Sessions are adapted for young people with additional needs and are open for a wide range of young people to access; including those with mild learning difficulties, through to those with more complex needs such as visual impairment and physical disabilities. Young people are given the opportunity to access a range of activities, including boxing, trampolining, karaoke, arts and crafts, cooking, gaming and much more.

Will the Youth Zone increase anti-social behaviour in the area?

The impact of other Youth Zones in their local areas has been extremely positive with statistics showing that the Youth Zones have actually contributed towards the decrease in anti-social behaviour.

For example, local police have reported a 77% reduction in anti-social behaviour (ASB) as a direct result of strategic and continued partnership work between Wigan Youth Zone and local police, whilst Harpurhey, in Manchester, has also seen a 51% reduction in ASB since its opening.

Hear from PCSO Robert Smith, who patrols the Harpurhey area of Manchester, about his views of the impact The Factory Youth Zone has made on the reduction of ASB in the area: https://www.onsideyouthzones.org/youth-zoness-impact-on-asb-levels

Hear from parents, voluntary sector youth providers and councillors in this short video about why they think Youth Zones are so important to their local areas: https://www.onsideyouthzones.org/changing-perceptions-of-a-youth-zone