Four years after it was first announced the Legacy Youth Zone in Whitehorse Road in Thornton Heath will finally open its doors young people, from Croydon and across South London, in September – giving them access to a 25,000 sq ft, purpose-built, youth facility.
Its story is one of overcoming challenges and is a tale in which AMP House has played a big part.
“The centre is the result of much hard work and contributions from the many organisations and businesses that have helped us since plans were first announced in 2015. We are grateful to so many people and among these are the team at AMP House,” said Barnabas Shelbourne, the Chief Executive of Legacy Youth Zone, part of the OnSide Youth Zones network.
“When I first came to Croydon in 2018 to begin the process of building the charity’s team of managers, staff and volunteers, I knew I had to be in the town, meeting with people and businesses. For several weeks, I was working in my car and from coffee shops. I had nowhere else I could operate from,” he added.
By chance, Barnabas had a conversation with Andrew Bauer of the Whitgift Shopping Centre, who was able to introduce him to Sarah Cusack, the marketing and lettings manager at AMP House Serviced Offices, who was able to provide the charity with the office space it so badly needed in order to administer the project.
“AMP House has been a lifesaver for us,” he said, adding: “Nothing is too much trouble for the team and the community spirit within the building has provided us with so much support. There is a real sense of belonging here and it is clear that the building’s owners, care deeply about the town and the part that AMP House and the ongoing regeneration of Ruskin Square Real Estate will play in the future success of Croydon, its businesses and community.”
The Legacy Youth Zone team has grown significantly since its humble beginnings and, when it relocates to the new centre in a few weeks’ time, its team of 18 members of staff will say goodbye to AMP House.
As well as a great place to meet and make new friends, the centre will provide its members with the opportunity to participate in sports, leisure activities, seek impartial advice, get support and learn new skills that will help them fulfil their potential. The new centre will offer activities including sports such as rock climbing, boxing, martial arts, football and racket sports alongside dance and drama, music and activities in the centre’s own media studio.
“Our experience shows that youth centres like Legacy Youth Zone bring huge benefits to young people and the wider communities that they live in and when we open our doors for the first time in September we will be able to transform the lives of thousands of young people in South London,” said Barnabas.