CEO Kathryn introduces you to OnSide

OnSide is a national charity that believes all young people should have the opportunity to discover their passion and their purpose. To find out what they’ve got and where it could take them.

OnSide funds and builds state of the art, multi-million pound Youth Zones in the country’s most economically disadvantaged areas and trains the amazing people that run them while offering continued support. These are brand new, purpose-built spaces fizzing with energy, and crammed with incredible facilities.

They are staffed by skilled and dedicated youth workers who truly believe in young people – helping them see what they could achieve, and giving them the skills, confidence and ambition to go for it. This is life changing support that helps tens of thousands of young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to thrive.

Youth Zones are a unique partnership between young people and their community, local authorities and private business leadership, and a growing movement of supporters who believe that how we treat the next generation defines who we are as a society.

OnSide now has 14 open Youth Zones within its network, including three in London, with a number of others in development. Its fourth London Youth Zone, WEST, will open in 2023 in White City.

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Some Charity Stats

  • 45,000 members make around 500,000 visits each year to OnSide’s Youth Zones

  • The charity has pioneered a diversified funding model that has generated over £70 million in donations since 2008

  • A study into the charity’s model found that, on average, every £1 spent on running a Youth Zone delivers £2 back in benefits to society

  • Created over 500 jobs for youth workers with over 800 volunteers across the network

  • 89% of members say they feel more confident as a result of attending a Youth Zone while 80% are getting better marks in school

Impact Stories

  • Thomas

    Thanks to the specialist one-to-one support offered by youth worker, Baz at Blackburn Youth Zone, Thomas (15) is able to take part in activities alongside his friends, which he hasn’t been able to do before.

    “Thomas is severely autistic and has limited communication skills. His behaviour can be challenging and unpredictable. Since coming to the Youth Zone Thomas has gone from strength to strength. If you knew Thomas before, you would see straight away the change in him. He is now calm and collected opposed to hostile and aggressive. He is always smiling!”

  • Joe

    Joe (18), secured employment with Oldham based flatroof specialist, Primeseal after completing an employability course, Get a Job at Mahdlo.

    “It’s been fantastic, I’ve got a great new job through Mahdlo’s Get a Job scheme. I have received so much support and enthusiasm along the way. I think it is important for young people to have the opportunity to do a course like this, as it’s so hard to find a job and loads of young people struggle.”

  • Owen

    Singer-songwriter Owen (14) fulfilled a lifelong ambition to sing to thousands of fans at Wigan Athletic, thanks to support and guidance from Wigan Youth Zone staff.

    “The Youth Zone staff are always more bothered with what you want to do, not what they think you should do. Where else can you write and produce an album and music video for just 50p?”

  • Hannah

    Hannah (16) has never looked back since she started coming to The Factory. Her health and fitness have improved dramatically and she now volunteers at junior sessions and is a great ambassador for the network of OnSide Youth Zones at key events.

    “The day I started coming to The Factory my life changed. It’s the day I learnt who I was and what I was capable of. I’ve lost a ton of weight, I realised I like sport and I’m actually good at it. I now have the skills that I need to achieve my future goal of being an outward-bound instructor.”

  • Connor

    A group of senior members from Carlisle Youth Zone created an award-winning enterprise initiative, the ‘Baked Bean Project’ which saw them develop a printed recipe book of affordable meals for young mums and homeless people.

    As part of the project the group cooked one of their takeaway meals for 38 homeless people at the Salvation Army drop-in lunch.

    “The project has been really good. I’m thinking about going on to do a catering course as a result of it.”

Jobs at OnSide