Local Councillors joined Matthew in attending the grand opening of the UNITAS Barnet Youth Zone in Burnt Oak. The building is part of a £6.5 million investment - largely funded by Conservative-controlled Barnet Council and developed by the national charity OnSide Youth Zones, who worked with the council as a strategic partner.
The site will offer young people aged 8-19 (and up to 25 for those with disabilities) up to twenty different activities each night, including music, arts, employability and enterprise workshops, a giant climbing wall, a mentoring kitchen, and hot meals for £1. These activities will all take place in a four-court Sports Hall, Fitness Suite, Boxing Room and on the rooftop 3G pitch.
As well as donating the land, the Council contributed £4.2 million towards the construction costs. The remainder has come from the Benson Black Charitable Trust, the Rubin Foundation Charitable Trust, the Linbury Trust, Bernard Sunley Foundation, the Gerald and Gail Ronson Family Foundation and the Seroussi Foundation, via UBS Optimus Foundation and Vistra Jersey.
Matthew said: “At a time when youth violence and knife crime has rocketed across London, Barnet Council has invested in a facility to address young people's problems by giving them the chance to get involved in positive activities. What particularly impressed me was the initiative to help NEETs (young people not in education, employment or training). This fits in with the ethos of the centre - to provide aspiration and opportunity to our young people. It’s a great centre and will provide a huge, positive boost for Colindale, Burnt Oak and the surrounding area.”