In Dagenham, east London, tucked just behind the trees of Parsloes Park, is the Future Youth Zone: a brightly glowing, neon-lit youth hub that was designed by the young people it supports. Three years ago, the British youth charity OnSide enlisted a local committee to advise them on what was needed and wanted here as part of its growing network of centres – a telling example of the organisation’s commitment to young people.
For 52 weeks of the year, in the evenings and at weekends, members of this Youth Zone bounce between rooms offering everything from music and film production to indoor rock climbing, martial arts, crafts, fashion, dance and much more. In the middle of the space, a communal rec area hums with the constant coming and going of young people of all ages, backgrounds and personalities.
Diversity is what makes the Future Youth Zone so special. There’s family here, where older members encourage younger members, and where the most unlikely of friendships are made – and kept. It’s an inclusive space, designed for everyone.