Oxford City Council has secured over £1.2m funding in a joint bid with Oxfordshire County Council to redevelop part of Leys Pools & Leisure Centre for new space and services to support young people.
The City Council’s cabinet last night approved the plans, which aim to drive positive outcomes for young people, including improved mental and physical wellbeing, and skills for life and work. Plans have been developed in partnership with the County Council, which has statutory responsibility for children and young people’s services.
The City and County Council worked with young people to help develop the plans for the new hub. The anticipated programme of youth work activities includes opportunities such as cooking, climbing, music, technology and many others, and is expected to evolve as the programme develops.
The project will see the crèche facilities moved to another part of the leisure centre and the under-used soft play area converted, to create space for a social area, quiet rooms, a kitchen, music and digital space and a climbing wall. Alongside the building changes, the funding provides for four youth workers and a co-ordinator for the first year, and the City Council is looking to put this staffing on a longer-term footing. The work builds on the council’s already very active Youth Ambition services in the area.
“This is a really exciting opportunity to provide more activities and youth worker support to young people in Oxford. We know that these opportunities outside school can make a big difference to wellbeing, mental health and engagement with education. A hub like this can make a huge difference to whole families, helping reduce the inequalities that exist across the city. We want to give young people the chance to build their skills and confidence and be their best selves. I’m pleased to see this plan also showing how our leisure centres can be used in new ways to benefit local communities.”
Councillor Chewe Munkonge, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks
“This partnership approach with Oxford City Council is part of our ongoing commitment to support youth services. We are already in touch with a number of local organisations such as the Oxford Academy school and Activate Learning College, as well as various community groups, and intend to grow this network in coming months. The youth hub will provide a great opportunity to support a range of young people’s needs; building longer term connections into employment, training, and transition into adulthood.”
Councillor Liz Brighouse, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Youth Services at Oxfordshire County Council