£6million city youth zone vision unveiled

Sir Peter Vardy with a copy of Blyth's new Bede Academy prospectus.
Sir Peter Vardy with a copy of Blyth's new Bede Academy prospectus.
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Plans for a £6million new activity area for young people in the heart of Sunderland have been unveiled.

The city is set to be the first in the North East to develop an youth zone, offering a wide range of programmes, services and activities including sports, arts, and music, as well as help and advice on finding work and mentoring.

Sir Peter Vardy is spearheading the scheme for national youth charity OnSide. He is providing £500,000, The Queen’s Trust is pledging an investment of £1million and Virgin Money Foundation is chipping in £850,000.

“The development of an OnSide Youth Zone in the heart of city centre will be a huge investment boost for Sunderland,” said Sir Peter.

“I know first-hand that this project will not only help to support the Council’s impressive regeneration plans to reinvigorate the city, but also, more importantly support the wellbeing, aspirations and life chances of our young people as they move into adulthood.

“My vision is that all young people in the North East have access to somewhere safe and inspiring to go in their leisure time and I am hopeful that we will not only be able to create a Youth Zone in Sunderland, but also develop one in Newcastle where negotiations with the City Council are continuing .”

The plans will see a purpose-built Youth Zone next to Sunderland College’s new Holmeside campus, open seven-days-a-week, with more than 20 activities on offer every session for young people aged 8-19, or up to 25 for those with a disability.

OnSide has opened five centres since 2008.

Project director Dr Mark Ward said: “We are incredibly excited to be able to announce our first Youth Zone project for the North East.

“The considerable support from The Queen’s Trust and Virgin Money Foundation, alongside the vision of Sunderland City Council and the long-lasting partnership with the local voluntary sector, private sector and individuals such as Sir Peter, will ensure the Youth Zone goes onto deliver for local young people for years to come.”