Today Barking and Dagenham welcomes Prince Harry to officially open London's first Youth Zone. Over the last few months Prince Harry has spoken openly about the importance of young people having somewhere to go, and activities to participate in. It is widely accepted that one of the key catalysts for serious violent crime amongst young people is the reduction of funding to youth services across the country, leaving children with fewer opportunities.
Government funding for the early intervention has been cut by almost £500 million since 2013 according to a Local Government Association Report.
Jon Cruddas MP said: "despite the harrowing cuts to youth services, Labour councils such as Barking and Dagenham are finding innovative ways to deliver a positive future for our young people. The Youth Zone is a game changer and I have no doubt that it will support and nurture the aspirations of the next generation in Dagenham."
A combination of declining support services, lack of extracurricular activities and in many cases an absence of positive role models can often lead young people down the path to a life of crime, which is why projects such as the Youth Zone are so crucial.
The Youth Zone will be equipped with indoor climbing wall, outdoor 3G playing field, dance drama studio, music room with recording room, well-equipped gym, arts and crafts room, enterprise employment suite, martial arts studio, training kitchen and much more.
Jon added: "crime is the number one issue in my constituency and the most frequent comment from residents is that ‘there's nothing for young people to do now'. The Youth Zone will have a huge role to play in engaging young people and moving them away from lives of crime."
The Youth Zone is in Parsloes Park and opens to the public on 18th May. You can find out all about the Youth Zone here: https://www.futureyouthzone.org/