Keep Calm and Socialise
  • about-us

    Carlisle Youth Zone

    is a fabulous place to be.
    I have made lots of new friends and there is always plenty to do.

    Olivia Adams
    Aged 9

  • about-us


Carlisle Youth Zone represents a modern, engaging, exciting and relevant take on the youth clubs of the past. It will be open to all young people aged 8-21 (and up to 25 for those with disabilities and/or learning difficulties) and will serve the social, recreational and emotional needs of young people of the area whenever their schools are closed.

Our mission is to provide the Young People of Carlisle with:

  • Somewhere to go
  • Someone to talk to
  • Something to do
  • Somewhere to belong

Carlisle Youth Zone follows the success of a similar venture, the ‘Bolton Lads and Girls Club’.

‘Bolton Lads Club’ as was, began in 1889, founded by a group of local businessmen who felt the need to support young lads who worked in some of the town’s mills. Back then, the facility wasn’t much but it was somewhere safe in which these young lads could spend their free time.  Over the last thirty years Bolton Lads and Girls Club was run by Jeremy Glover MBE, who recognised that there was a desire from local businesses to support activities for young people because they saw the benefits for their business, their people and the community.

Now in Bolton, the local business community don’t just sponsor activities for young people, they invest in the club, taking ownership of it as a sustainable way to contribute to their local community. They club got a new building in 2002, a £5 million investment in Bolton’s young people. Currently, Bolton Lads & Girls Club is the biggest youth centre in the UK, open 7 days-a-week, 52 weeks-a-year for all young people aged 8-21 years old.

After the Bolton club was up and running in its new building, there was a need for young people in other areas of the North West.  So Karen Edwards took over as Chief Executive of Bolton Lads and Girls Club, having herself, risen thought the ranks from volunteer, and Jeremy Glover started  OnSide Northwest to establish a network of 21st century youth centres across the North West, supported by the Government’s 10 year strategy for young people (Aiming High), which also aims to radically improve facilities for young people in the UK. OnSide set about achieving this aim by establishing itself as a charity, designed to bring together the public and private sectors across the North West to develop strong local partnerships, executive teams and to manage the build prior to handing over completely to each of the independent Youth Zones.

In May 2008 the Government launched the my place fund which meant that a state of the art facility for Carlisle was possible.  At the same time local businessman Brian Scowcroft had experienced Bolton Lads and Girls Club and was keen to have something similar for Carlisle.  Starting with strong foundations from the Bolton model, Carlisle Youth Zone was developed with local young people as a response to the clear, ongoing demand from young people, parents and communities for more and better places for young people to go, and is the first of five Youth Zones across the North West, due to open in April 2011.  The others following over the next 18-24 months in Oldham, Blackburn, Manchester and Wigan.

Carlisle Youth Zone is run by a dedicated and committed, private sector led board, chaired by Chris Holmes.

Together with the staff they are working hard towards the four CYZ aims:

  • To raise aspirations – exposing young people to new and inspiring  experiences, building confidence, self esteem and self efficacy
  • To develop positive behaviour, helping young people to deal with challenges and build positive relationships
  • To encourage healthy lifestyles
  • To reduce crime, discriminatory and anti-social behaviour

While the benefits of investing in a state of the art facility for young people are clear, Carlisle Youth Zone has to be more than just a building if it is going to succeed in meeting it’s aims.

Partnership working through strong links with local communities and other youth work providers are crucial. Our goal is that CYZ becomes a catalyst for a raised offer for young people across

Carlisle and surrounding areas.

  • A place for all young people to come together, and for people who work with young people to come together
  • A safe, non-threatening environment
  • Welcoming, accessible and inclusive
  • Adding value, supporting local provision, filling gaps
  • Workforce development including a strong volunteer programme
  • Making CYZ a “home” for young people

The local geography dictates that some young people may live too far out to access the building every day, but through our outreach work they can access the Youth Zone more intensively in holidays.  We are also working with local transport providers to find solutions.  We recognise that for some young people they may not be ready to access the building, but by working closely with the people they already know and trust, this does not mean that they cannot benefit from the Youth Zone.  We are working hard with partners to contribute to a continued local youth work economy, ensuring that it is a viable and desirable career option, and ensuring supply can meet demand.

So how will we know if it is working? Mainly young people will tell us.  Through work including a Young People’s Development Group and Young Inspectors programme, young people can tell us what we need to be doing.  We are investing in a Management Information System and a range of other monitoring and evaluation, and are currently undertaking a Social Return on Investment (SROI) study. This is a relatively new idea that will provide another tool in our kit so that we better understand the impact of putting a £5m facility for young people in Carlisle.  It will also arrive at financial proxies e.g. reduced spend on NHS or youth offending costs.

A Young Person Development Group (YPDG) was set up early in the process to ensure the end users were engaged at every stage of development. We are currently expanding the representation and developing the young people’s development group, to ensure we keep abreast of changing needs and wants, to make Carlisle Youth Zone a “home” for young people.

Carlisle Youth Zone relies on the support of the local community, for donations, support and volunteers.