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Inspired Series: Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of OnSide Youth Zones

Happy kids

Inspired Series interviewed Kathryn Morley, Chief Executive of the charity OnSide Youth Zones. They are creating some fantastic leisure facilities for young people throughout the country and are a charity that Inspired Homes is keen to support.

Who are OnSide Youth Zones?

OnSide Youth Zones is a national youth charity, which creates state-of-the-art, 21st century Youth Zones across the UK and supports them as part of the OnSide network of Youth Zones. We have overseen the building and opening of eight facilities to date with many more in the pipeline. Working with local authorities to create these new charities, we develop the facilities, raise funding to contribute towards their cost, and recruit staff and volunteers to work there. Helping young people to reach their full potential, our facilities provide young people between eight and 19 – or up to 25 with a disability – with somewhere safe and inspiring to spend their leisure time, raising their aspiration and helping them develop into happier, healthier and more confident young adults who go on to be more successful in their lives.

How did the charity come about?

The Youth Zone model is based on the successful Bolton Lads Club, which was established in 1889. For over 30 years Bolton Lads and Girls Club was run by Jerry Glover MBE, who recognised the desire from local businesses to support activities for young people because they saw the benefits for their business and the wider community.

OnSide Youth Zones was created by Jerry and his Chair Bill Holroyd CBE DL to replicate the success at Bolton Lads and Girls Club in other towns and cities across the country, bringing together the public and private sectors to develop strong local partnerships, executive teams and a much-needed new charity for the local community.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

OnSide currently has live projects across the country in Chorley, Preston, Warrington, Barking and Dagenham, Barnet and Croydon. In addition, we have a number of other projects in earlier stages of development.

Our £6m Croydon facility ‘Legacy Youth Zone’ is being developed in partnership with Croydon Council and is set to open in 2018. Located on Whitehorse Road in Thornton Heath, the state-of-the-art facility will include a four-court indoor sports hall, indoor climbing wall, a gym, a performing arts studio, a music suite, a boxing and martial arts gym, and a recreation area. There will also be an arts, crafts and fashion area, film and multimedia facilities, a teaching kitchen, a café and “chill out” zone and a multi-use games area with floodlights. Membership will cost £5 per year and then it’s just 50p per visit.

What role can the property industry play? 

The private sector plays a vital role in the development of a Youth Zone. Without the support of local businesses, Youth Zones simply would not be built. Within our funding we have many visionary and committed leaders from the private sector who come together as founding patrons and contribute a significant part of the annual £1million running costs.

How can people get involved?

We would love to involve as many people as possible in the local business community in the project, please come to visit a Youth Zone so you can see firsthand the extraordinary impact that Youth Zones have on young people’s lives.

If you would like to visit one of the Youth Zones or for more information, please email David Mellis at or call him on 07962 656 990.


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