Runcorn youngsters are celebrating the New Year with the launch of a free Youth Zone at the town’s Shopping City.
Created out of a former gym, the youth centre is designed to give young people their own space away from the shopping malls, and will be equipped with Play Stations, table tennis, air hockey, table football, interactive media and other activities.
The zone was the idea of shopping centre manager Karl Clawley who has worked with a whole host of local companies and apprentices, who have given their time and goods for free.
Bell Decorating Group donated paint for the new Youth Zone which was applied by apprentices from Riverside College. CEF gave the lighting and heating; Trust Ford has donated air hockey, table football and a ping pong table and other groups have contributed a range of equipment.
The Youth Zone, located on the first floor of Shopping City, will be available free of charge to all youngsters (age 10-17) every week on Thursdays and Fridays, 5.30-7.30pm, supervised by Youth Addaction staff.
At other times the centre will also be available for other groups to use along similar lines to a community centre.
Launching the new youth centre, David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “I was honoured to be asked to open the new Youth Zone at Runcorn Shopping City. It is a fantastic facility which will really make a difference to young people across Halton.
“The hard work and dedication of all those who have come together to make this important project happen should be commended and I look forward to seeing the Youth Zone develop over the coming months and years.”
Shopping City manager Karl Clawley added: “The response from local groups to help create this Youth Zone has been amazing. We are very grateful to all the businesses and organisations who have been inspired to get involved and make a difference.
“We were really keen to give youngsters their own place within the shopping centre where they can just hang out with their friends. We hope the two weekly sessions will just be the start of the journey. We would love to hear from other groups who might like to use this space.
“As a shopping centre, we always try to put the community at the heart of everything we do. This is a new year present for the town’s youngsters and we hope it will be a gift that keeps on giving for many years to come.”