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Ealing Young Champions and supporters save the Young Adult Centre in Southall from being demolished by Ealing Council

Following a campaign by young people from Ealing Young Champions and their supporters, the Young Adult Centre in Southall has been saved from demolition.

Ealing Council had been closing and limiting services taking place at the centre over recent months with plans to demolish the Park View Road building and provide a temporary place for young people which campaigners challenged the council over. They said a temporary building would not be suitable and that the existing centre should be refurbished instead of being demolished.

But now as a result of the campaign, Ealing Council has said it will not demolish the popular facility for young people.

In a statement, 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, have mobilised themselves over the past year 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 19th 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.

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

On hearing that Ealing Council will now not demolish the YAC, Lily said: “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 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.”

Councillor Aysha Raza, the council’s cabinet member for tackling inequalities, added: “We realise the YAC is a highly valued resource within the community and is an important location for connection, health, study and recreational activities, especially with its youth programme, which has contributed so much to young people’s lives.”

Ealing Liberal Democrats Councillor Jon Ball, opposition spokesperson for planning told EALING.NEWS: “Ealing Liberal Democrats and I are delighted that the Labour administration have done a U-turn on this issue. I spoke in support of the Ealing Young Champions when they presented their petition to Ealing Council last October. At that time Labour were ruthlessly pushing ahead with the closure of the Young Adults Centre. Thankfully they have now seen sense and have agreed to save the YAC.”

Councillor Ball added: “The Liberal Democrat group has always supported greater youth centre provision. We congratulate Ealing Young Champions on their campaign and look forward to the Young Adults Centre going from strength to strength, giving opportunities for further generations of young people and fighting inequality.”

Dr. Lynne Guyton, chief executive officer of John Lyon’s Charity says: “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.

Cabinet member for a fairer start, Councillor Kamaljit Nagpal, said: “The YAC is an important space in the community, and we will be working with local people to find out what they feel can be added to make improvements to the youth centre and any added requirements it needs – so it can continue being an important asset to the community.”

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