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Ealing Council confirms refurbishment of Southall’s Young Adult Centre to start 30 May

Having been saved from demolition in 2022 following a campaign by young people from Ealing Young Champions and their supporters, Ealing Council has confirmed that works to refurbish the Young Adult Centre (YAC) in Southall are set to start on 30 May 2024.

The contract to do the £1.9m refurbishment has been awarded to G&V Contracts Ltd and is set to be completed by 13 November 2024.

Councillor Kamaljit Nagpal, cabinet member for a fairer start said: “It was a real honour to sign-off on this contract. The YAC is a highly valued and important asset to the community and contributes so much to young people’s lives in Southall. And the approach we are taking to the refurbishment has been informed by the young people who use it.  I am so pleased that we are ensuring its future in Southall.”

In a statement, Ealing Council added: “As a part of the redesign process, young people who use the YAC have been actively involved in the discussions and decisions on the lay out of the centre. They have also provided their feedback on the programmes and activities that they would like to be delivered from their centre when it re-opens later this year.”

The council also revealed the total spend on the refurbishment is estimated to be: “approximately £2.4 million which includes the contract to G&V Contracts Ltd, contingency and costs on fees, and spend on new ICT and gym equipment.”

Two years ago, campaigners from Ealing Young Champions together with their supporters lobbied the council and took part in a council meeting to argue the need to keep the YAC.

In September 2022, Ealing Council leader Councillor Peter Mason said: “The young people of Southall came together to make clear that they wanted to keep the YAC where it is and, after our recent engagement and much thinking, we agree.”

Councillor Mason added: “To every young person who has raised their voice on such an important issue, we say: ‘We have listened to your thoughts on the plans for a new youth centre in Southall, we understand your concerns and how important the Southall Young Adult Centre is to you, and we agree should remain where it is.’ Not only that, but we now want to work with you to make the YAC even better, and find a way to put it into your hands permanently, for good.”

Since being notified in 2021 of Ealing Council’s intent to shut down the popular centre for young people, Ealing Young Champions, who are helped by the Young Ealing Foundation, mobilised themselves in person and on social media through the #SaveTheYAC hash tag.

Young Ealing Foundation is a charity which brings together the public, private and voluntary sectors to help and improve the lives of children and young people in Ealing.

A petition to save the young adult centre had over 1,500 signatures and was debated by the Council at their cabinet meeting on 19 October 2021.

Members of Ealing Young Champions and their supporters held a protest outside the Town Hall and gave a passionate speech at the cabinet meeting to tell councillors that they are wrong to consider demolishing it.

Ealing Young Champion Lily Connolly Woods, 18, presented the petition to councillors at the cabinet meeting.

On hearing that Ealing Council will not demolish the YAC, Lily said at the time: “After all of our hard work, I am overjoyed at the decision of the council to keep the YAC open. It is clear that the centre is needed in the community, and I’m glad the young people of Southall get to keep this pillar in the local area”

Elly Heaton, chief executive officer, Young Ealing Foundation previously said: We are absolutely delighted that Ealing Council have listened to the Ealing Young Champions and have made the decision to keep the Young Adults Centre open for future generations. We are looking forward to working with them going forward to ensure that the Young Adults Centre continues to thrive as a community hub, provide a safe space for young people, and is an asset the community can continue to utilise for the long-term future.”

Dr. Lynne Guyton, chief executive officer of John Lyon’s Charity also said at the time: “For the past 18 months we have been campaigning to save the YAC as a key youth club for the children and young people of Ealing. Having reached out to Ealing Council to help them understand what a critical resource and part of the social fabric the Club is, I am delighted that the Council has decided to keep the YAC open and fully supported. ”

Dr Guyton added: “More than ever before, in the wake of COVID and in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, youth clubs such as the YAC are a guiding light for many young people bringing together different communities, providing sports activities, clubs and a safe space for those at risk of violence and crime.”

Save Southall Youth Centre

In June 2022, local Southall campaigner to save the YAC, Minni Dogra wrote: “The site has been used for educational and youth facilities since the early 1970s. Many of us (who had nothing) grew up in Southall using Southall Youth Centre (SYC). It was a well located safe space back then and continues to be so. The Centre is fully supported by provision of various amenities. Presently, groups , organisations and individuals who are offering activities at SYC are being turned away because closure is imminent. I too have volunteered my time for supporting and teaching English as a second language. We have to bring these issues out in the open and Ealing Council must understand that SYC facility for our young people is far more important than their avaricious need to give up our valuable facility and land to yet more housing development for which there is no support in the community.”

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