The Barking and Dagenham Youth Zone is an innovative and exciting facility built for the borough's young people ages 8-19, and up to 25 for those with disabilities or learning difficulties. After officially opening this May, the Youth Zone has already exceeded expectations with over 4,000 young people signed up as members and over 20,000 individual visits.

The Youth Zone boasts a wide range of fantastic activities and facilities including a gym, a four-court sports hall, music room, interactive games, cookery, dance, drama, employability opportunities etc. Jon Cruddas MP has hailed the Zone as a huge success.

Jon Cruddas MP said: "one of the biggest issues in the area over the last few years has been youth violence and crime – time and time again we hear from residents that ‘there isn't anything for young people to do', and that there is a lack of opportunity and positive role models. After nine years of austerity and huge cuts to youth services, initiatives like this have the potential to deliver the opportunities that the government have failed to provide for our young people."

Off the back of the success Jon Cruddas MP is urging Havering Council to look at doing the same. Whilst the Youth Zone is not owned or run by the council Barking and Dagenham worked closely with the ‘On Side' team to ensure the smooth delivery of services for the community.

Jon explained: "if the Tory government wont support local authorities to deliver youth services or community provisions then councils will have to find innovative new ways to plug the gap – I am urging Havering Council to look at the model Barking and Dagenham have used and seek out a charity partner to deliver a similar facility for young people in Havering."