IT may seem hard to believe but this week marks a year since Wigan Youth Zone first opened its doors.
Each day this week in the Wigan Evening Post we will be running stories about the effect the multi-million pound facility has had on the borough as well as a special four-page pull-out in our sister paper the Wigan Observer.
One of the founder members of the Youth Zone is its chairman, local businessman Martin Ainscough who is ecstatic with the progress that has been made.
“We are absolutely delighted with our first year,” he said.
“We’ve got something like 9,500 members now and we’re averaging something like 2,500 visits per week so from a standing start to have those figures is fantastic.
“We’re also getting new people coming on board as well, there has been some really, really encouraging work done over the last 12 months.
“John Harker who is the general manager, youth work manager Phil Marsh and all their team have done a fantastic job in getting the place bedded down, getting the activities going and I’m certain that we’ve made some positive differences to the lives of some of the young people of Wigan who have been there and have had a good time.
“We’re doing a holiday club, we’ve had people doing the Duke of Edinburgh and doing all sorts of different sorts of activities they couldn’t have done without Wigan Youth Zone and I’m very confident now it will go from strength to strength.”
Wigan Council bosses have also praised the impact it has made.
Director of Children and Families Anne Goldsmith said: “It’s been fantastic, the whole place has had an energy from the start, lots of young people have engaged with it from the outset and there are lots of links with the schools and youth groups.
“The age range is extensive and they’ve really engaged with the younger age group as well.
“We’ve looked at the whole borough and ensured it’s not just for Wigan as a town but people from all over.”
Cabinet member for Children and Young People Coun Susan Loudon added: “I think everyone has benefited, the local authority has benefitted because we have young people we can now speak to as a group and get the feeling of what services we need to provide and where the gaps are.
“The people who have really benefitted are the young people who now have a place they can come and join in whatever they feel like.
“They don’t have to be interested in football, they can make something, join a music group or sing. It’s fantastic.”
To celebrate the one-year anniversary, Wigan Youth Zone will be hosting a carnival-style party this Saturday between 10am and 10pm with activities and refreshments.