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Annual Report


Welcome to our 21/22 annual review.

Over the past 8 years, our charity we have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to supporting young people in Wigan and Leigh, some of whom are the most vulnerable in our community, to fulfil their potential as they transition into adulthood.  Over the last 12 months, we have seen our Wigan Youth Zone community come together and show resilience, determination and a shared sense of purpose to effectively support our young people while their external environment becomes increasingly challenging for them and their families. 

We are exceptionally proud of what Wigan Youth Zone has accomplished this year by being there for young people when they have needed us the most. Since coming out of Covid-restrictions in August 2021, the demand for our charity’s services has never been higher – reflecting the importance of our work for the entire community.


Our vision is to inspire and empower young people in Wigan and Leigh to fulfil their potential. 


Our mission is to give young people in Wigan and Leigh aged 8-19 (up to 25 with a disability) the freedom to discover themselves in an innovative, safe and social environment and to support their transition into adulthood. 

Our Values


oung person centred approach


pen, inclusive and respectful environment 


niversal programming consistently on offer which is inspirational and aspirational


ruly meaningful opportunities for the youth voice and empowerment


elping young people to build positive relationships to enable them to reach their potential

The year of bouncing back

Wigan Youth Zone is and will always be ambitious for youth work. The past year has been another hard one for young people with more lockdowns, disruptions to school, college or employment and restrictions on activities – all of which have contributed to a number of challenges that have been faced by a large number of the 5,000+ young people we work with. As a result, we have seen worsening mental health, increasing safeguarding concerns and a range of other social issues being faced. Our vision for 2021-2022 has been focused on aspirations, dreams and future goals. We strive to ensure excellence across all our provisions for young people, offering them new experiences to help them achieve their potential. We believe that all young people in the Wigan Borough should grow up healthy, safe & happy with the best opportunities for brighter futures.

our stats and facts

Free Membership

Get A Job


Members received a free year membership


Free Entries (including Holiday Club)


Young people completed
the 'Get A Job' Course


Transferred into employment and education




Was raised through Mocktails and Dreams


Was raised through Enterprise Projects


Active Volunteers


Hours of Volunteering

Mentoring Stats


Young People went on the Mentoring Programme


Young People successful relationships


Individual Mentors


Hours of Mentoring Volunteered

General Stats


Members in total visited WYZ


Inclusion members


Visits to Enterprise and Employability


Visits to the Dance Studio


New members this year


Visits to the Climbing Wall


Visits to the Sports Hall


Visits to the MUGA pitches


Visits during the year


Visits during Holiday Club


Visits to the Skate Park


Visits to the Music Room


Visits by ability members


Young People engaged through Outreach


Visits to the Gym

Our Support nETWORK

We would like to take this opportunity to recognise and thank all of our Partners, Founder, Patrons and Patrons for their extremely generous support over what has been an incredibly difficult year.








Nobody could have predicted the world we would find ourselves in over the last few years. It was hard to imagine back then that there could have been a more challenging time for young people who have so often appeared to be an afterthought in the consciousness of wider society. It was hard to imagine back then that there could have been more challenging. It was hard to imagine back then that there could have been a more challenging time for young people who have so often appeared to be an afterthought in the consciousness of wider society. Mental health issues, loneliness, isolation, difficult family relationships, digital poverty, increasing risks of turning to anti-social behaviour and food poverty are just some of the well-documented issues which young people have faced.  

Richard Ainscough

Chair of the Board at Wigan Youth Zone 2019 – 2022

I find it both amazing and gratifying that no matter what challenges need to be faced, Wigan Youth Zone, its leaders, staff and members, continue to demonstrate the importance of their task with a peerless belief in themselves and a determination to succeed. Together, we will not allow anything to stand in the path of progress because Wigan and Leigh’s young people deserve the very best, and at Wigan Youth Zone nothing is going to stop them from getting it! 

This year’s annual review is a special celebration of young people. Wigan Youth Zone works across the Borough, whether that be through the DofE programme, activities in our Gym or Dance studio in the town centre hub or through our outreach programmes and sessions at a local level across Wigan and Leigh. 

Sikander Ali

Head of Operations at Wigan Youth Zone

let's talk numbers



Management Cost


Delivery Costs


Utilities and Building Costs


Fundraising Costs




Total Expenditure


Staffing Costs



Local Authority




Total Income (inc. £70 bank interest)




Membership and Entry Fees


Investment Revalutation Gain


Trusts and Grants


Community Supporters


Gift Aid


Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme

“Over the past year, we have continued our relentless pursuit of doing whatever we can to support as many young people in Wigan and Leigh as possible.

The pandemic hit the community hard and we made it our mission to do whatever we could within the various Government-restrictions, to give as many young people as possible meaningful opportunities for engagement and connection.”

“When we were able to open our doors to the masses in August 2021 young people came back in their droves – our membership swelled to over 6,000 for the first time since we first opened in 2013.

And by coming to Wigan Youth Zone for a sustained period of time, we know that there is a correlation – through externally validated research – between attendance at Wigan Youth Zone and a whole host of positive outcomes such as increased confidence, reduced isolation, healthier, happier and positively contribution to community life. Through the research, we have been able to measure our social value for the community at 2.17 – this means that for every £1 invested into our charity generates £2.17 worth of value for the Borough.

But behind all the information are human beings; young people who experienced acute challenges and are still experiencing them today – our work does not stop to fulfil our vision of inspiring and empowering young people in Wigan and Leigh to fulfil their potential.

We are a local charity which creates long-lasting and meaningful change for our next generation but we could not do this without our many supporters; so if you have made a proactive investment by supporting our work over the past year – thank you. Our young people are very lucky to have you.”

Wigan Youth Zone x Holiday Activities and Food

During the school holidays, Wigan Youth Zone provided free activities and hot food for over 610 individual children and young people eligible for Free School Meals. The young people made 3,964 attendances across our eight delivery venues, all offering a supportive environment for young people in the Borough by engaging with them in positive activities. 

Wigan has 49 neighbourhoods’ within the most deprived 15% in England (Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2019), meaning that young people living in these areas we’re experiencing unprecedented poverty. Therefore, the Holiday, Activity and Food programme was a vital initiative that helped parents and carers by supporting their children, at no cost to them, and, most importantly, helping to prevent young people going hungry in the school holidays.   

At Wigan Youth Zone, we are committed to supporting the young people within our community and the feedback we receive illustrates the tangible benefit our services have on families. 

“I would like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to you and your team. My niece attended your Easter club at Norley Hall community centre and she loved every minute of it. She was very nervous at the start of the week, worrying if she would know anyone, all the anxious feelings Jess had completely disappeared in the first session. She had a marvellous time! The work you have done over the holiday period is fabulous, so from myself, Jess and her mum …thank you very, very much.” 

Wigan Youth Zone welcomed 14 new staff members and 5 new volunteers into their amazing families!  

After the tough restrictions of the Lockdown, the Youth Zone prepared to return to its former busy state. 

All new staff members were invited to attend training sessions at the Youth Zone, including health and safety, safeguarding and boundaries, and even a street-based youth work session, which is aimed at increasing the Youth Zone’s outreach offer. 

Our new recruits looked the part in their new matching red uniforms. The young people of Wigan and Leigh are certain to benefit from the wide array of skills and knowledge presented by the new army of youth workers.  

Wigan Youth Zone’s Youth Workers dedicate their hearts and souls to the young people they work with every day. Their passion, commitment, skills, and dedication inspire us daily, and we are so grateful to have them inspire the next generation. 

At the time Wigan Youth Zone’s CEO Anthony Ashworth-Steen said: 

“The success of Wigan Youth Zone over the past eight years is down to the creativity, passion and hard-work of our dedicated staff and volunteer team. Throughout the pandemic, they have shown their commitment to supporting as many young people in Wigan and Leigh by adapting our offer, time and time again, which is nothing short of exceptional. As we look forward to working with more young people in the weeks and months ahead, in line with government guidance, we are delighted to welcome this new cohort of team members whose energy, enthusiasm and skill, coupled with our exceptional existing team members, will ensure that our legacy of excellent youth work continues into the future.”    

“I didn’t use to live in the UK. I moved here in November 2020. I didn’t know what a Youth Zone was. I’d passed by it multiple times when I moved to Wigan, and I thought that’s not a place for me. I joined in May 2021 and going in there, meeting everyone in the Rec Area, they are the nicest people. I wasn’t expecting as much kindness.  

“From there I found so many different rooms to try, like the Sports Hall, the Enterprise Room and Dance Studio where I’ve learnt to express myself, which has helped me be more confident about my body. Right now, I live alone with my brother, so the Enterprise Room has helped me with how to manage money and how to build a business. I liked the Youth Zone so much I wanted to give back in some way. My experience just kept getting better as I became part of Youth Voice and a Young Leader at the Youth Zone. Being a Young Leader gave me essential experience that from it I got a job in a primary school as a teaching assistant. I don’t think I would have gotten that job if I was not a Young Leader.” 


Wigan Youth Zone celebrates 8th Birthday

In June, we celebrated the 8th birthday of the doors of Wigan Youth Zone being open to children across the Borough for the first time. Since our grand opening in 2013, we have had over 26,000 young people engage with the services of the charity – over 580,000 visits have been made to the Youth Zone from the young people of Wigan and Leigh. 

Wigan Youth Zone provides opportunities for young people to engage positively every evening, weekend and school holiday – with every activity imaginable, young people are able to have new and meaningful experiences with other young people from a variety of backgrounds, in the comfort and safety of our facilities and in the presence of our exceptional youth workers. 

Wigan Youth Zone celebrated birthdays with events throughout the week and provided all current and new members with the opportunity to have a free membership. 

Wigan Youth Zone’s Head of Operations, Sikander Ali, said: “We are incredibly proud of what we have been able to achieve over the last 8 years with the help of supporters, staff and volunteers for our young members, especially during the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic which saw a nationwide lockdown.” 

The impact we’ve been able to have wouldn’t have been possible without our amazing staff team and their endless hard work and dedication.” 

Loneliness Awareness Week took place from 14th -18th June 2021 and was a campaign to get more people talking about the subject. Loneliness among children and young people under the age of 18 increased sharply during the pandemic with lockdown measures meaning that many children were spending long periods away from friends, teachers and families at a time when developing social relationships is particularly important.  

Wigan Youth Zone is committed to helping tackle the battle of loneliness with young people by offering young people somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to every day – we know that as a result of attending the Youth Zone that 74.5% of our members fell a reduction of loneliness.  

Wigan Youth Zone believes skills are the key to a better future – that’s why we’re dedicated to investing in our young people by equipping them with life skills and experiences. 

On July 15th, we celebrated World Youth Skills Day, a time to remember the importance of youth skills development. Skills make us unique—they empower us, give us options and opportunities and allow us to live our lives on our terms. The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways. 

Wigan Youth Zone is dedicated to creating spaces and opportunities like our Young Leaders programme, which allows young people to learn essential leadership skills and put them into practice through meaningful volunteering placements. 


Rainbows filled the streets of Wigan as equality and diversity were celebrated. 

On Saturday 14th August, Wigan Youth Zone opened its doors for a night of pride-themed fun! 

Senior members were invited to attend the Youth Zone’s first major event since the pandemic restrictions began 18 months earlier. After months of face masks, social distancing and constant hand sanitizing, young people could finally return to the Youth Zone in their masses and enjoy a range of festivities. 

From 1pm – 6pm, staff members from WYZ attended Wigan Pride and were able to sell a variety of pride-themed goods on their stall, each hand-made by the young people who attended the Youth Zone. Over 300 young people were engaged with the Wigan Youth Zone stall alone.  

From 6pm – 8pm, the Wigan Youth Zone pride after-party was in session, featuring a whole host of different activities from inflatables in the Sports Hall to a karaoke stage and dance floor in the Rec Area – there was even ice creams, milkshakes and waffles from the “Mocktails and Dreams” counter.  

The after-party was a resounding success with 147 young people in attendance, 56 of whom were brand new members!  

Senior Club Manager, Hayley Russell, said: 

“It was such an amazing sight to see so many young people coming together and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community in a safe and positive way. Members were encouraged to be proud of who they really are and were able to freely express themselves without judgment or intimidation.” 

Wigan Youth Zone is and will continue to be a safe and inclusive environment for all young people throughout Wigan and Leigh. Diversity, inclusion and acceptance are key values that are upheld within the charity’s spaces and all members are welcomed and accepted. Always. 

Scottish Highland Expedition Diaries

Day 1  

“So we finally arrived in Scotland day 1 was a training day where we learned to put up tents and fit rucksacks. We are currently choosing our route for tomorrow.”  

Day 2  

“Day 2 was a day walk where we went out with our full packs on and walked through the valleys and tried to follow a disused railway until we got to this bridge and our group had to re-plan the route on the fly.” 

Day 3  

“Horseflies, Midges and Ticks, oh my!! Today we went out on our first expedition and were introduced to the biting wee beasties of Scotland. We have set up camp on a mountainside, and tomorrow we are going to do some science for our John Muir Award!” 

Day 4 

“Today was an extra-long day but packed full of adventure we started with some yoga on a mountainside before completing some scientific research for our John Muir award and we were able to see lots of different wildlife in the mountains a snake, a lizard and more ticks. We rounded off the day with stories around a campfire.”

Day 5 

“Today was the start of our 4-day expedition we started off organising rations and kit and then set off with a train journey Corrour where we journeyed to Loch Treig where we set up our base camp for the next 2 days we found that the loch was at a very low level and the site we chose is usually underwater and then we planned tomorrow’s mountain walk.”

Day 6  

“We started off our morning at camp with some loch side yoga and got our packs sorted for a day walk we started off after breakfast and set off up Creagan a chaise we zigzagged our way up the steep side and got to the top before lunch and found a spot out of the wind to eat in, where we did a mindful 10 minutes exercise. When we arrived back at our camp we had discussed that it was time for a wash so it was in the river for a dip before tea time.”

Day 7 

“We started off being absolutely pestered by midges so we packed up in our tents and did our morning yoga in our midge nets. Once we set off the midges died down and we travelled 7km down the valley to our next campsite which was on the side of the mountain Sgurr innse. After we had tea we went up to the saddle between Sgurr innse and Cruach innse to watch the sunset and try and see the stars.”

Day 8  

“We woke up to our camp having a perfect breeze which kept the midges at bay so we packed up our camp and travelled down the valley back to base camp on our way down we saw some birds of prey and walked through the forest back to our base camp where we were able to sort some admin drying some kit and having a wash in the river after our team made tea we planned our next expedition and had a campfire where we made hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows.”

Day 9  

We had a lie in till 9 at base camp and made a breakfast of eggy bread and fried spam (all food tastes amazing after 4 days of dehydrated food) we were spending the day in base camp to do some tie-dye and have our own mini Olympics we played blindfolded football and had some potato and spoon races all before lunch. After lunch we went on a short walk to see if we could find and identify some plants and flowers before planning our last expedition of the trip and rounding the day off with a campfire. 

Day 10 

We set off to Glenfinnan where we had a look at the monument to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the viaduct that is in Harry Potter. We walked up the glen and set up camp behind a bothy we met up with the estate manager who was brilliant and taught us all about the role of land management in the highlands he taught us about planting trees and managing deer we were able to have a look at deer antlers and look through the scope of his rifle! He was also able to show us many different plants and trees in the area where we camped. Once he had left we sorted tea and had a fire in the bothy before bed. 


Summer of fun with Media Cubs

Over the Summer Holidays, some of Wigan Youth Zone’s talented members were hard at work becoming the next media superstars!  

The Roving Reporters have had the opportunity to visit a number of different holiday clubs and perform some on-location filming. This involved interviewing a number of people, including the Chief Executive of Wigan Council, Alison McKenzie-Folan.   

Our young people were able to use a variety of high-tech pieces of equipment on their filming sessions, including a gimbal and film camera – they even had a Hollywood-style clapperboard to begin and end their shots. 100% of the members who took part in these sessions reported that they felt more confident, learned something new and felt like their views and opinions were important.  

Roving Reporter member Natasha said: 

“I think that this opportunity has improved my confidence and has created a pathway into reporting for me!” 

Grace Dyke, Media Cubs leader, said:  

“Working with the Wigan Youth Zone Roving Reporter team has been a real highlight of 2021- every member of the reporter team has blown us away with their willingness to learn something new and to be pushed out of their comfort zones – from presenting in front of the camera to directing the team using the clapper board. To see the team grow in confidence in such a short space of time has been amazing – we can’t wait to see the final results and to celebrate their efforts at a Wigan Youth Zone premiere!” 

Wigan Youth Zone Scare Tour is back!

After nearly two years, over 300 young people enjoyed the return of Wigan Youth Zone’s annual Scare Tour – an interactive live scare-maze experience.  

This year’s theme was the Zombie Zone, trapped with demonic flesh-eating zombies, which featured a tour of a real-life zombie apocalypse with various themed rooms, corridors and challenges that left members petrified. 

Senior Club Manager, Hayley Russell, said: 

“It was an amazing night, and after nearly two years of restrictions and experiencing difficult and unprecedented times, it was so special to have our Youth Zone full of fun and life again. All of us at Wigan Youth Zone are dedicated to giving our members the very best terrifying night out, it was awesome to bring back the infamous Scare Tour and continue to provide nightmares for a long time to come.” 

Michael Josephson’s Annual Ball was hailed a huge success after raising a jaw-dropping £750,000 for four charities, including Oldham’s Mahdlo Youth Zone, and Wigan Youth Zone.

The prestigious Michael Josephson MBE Ball saw the inspirational fundraiser call on 600 friends and supporters to dig deep at the city’s Kimpton Clocktower Hotel on 9th of October 21.  

The worlds of showbusiness, sport and music joined forces at the Kimpton Clocktower Hotel in Manchester, to raise vital funds for a number of children’s charities, including Mahdlo Youth Zone and Wigan Youth Zone.  

The event, which raised over £750,000, included an appearance from Ella Henderson, who performed her hits Ghost, Glitter Ball and This Is Real to the rapturous crowd. Also performing for the star-studded audience were 90s club legends Soul II Soul, who treated guests with tracks including Back to Life. 

Two of OnSide’s Youth Zone members, Maddie Peacock (Mahdlo Youth Zone) and our very own Georgia Linde, had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sing on the same stage as Ella Henderson with a tear-jerking cover of When You Believe originally sang by Whitney and Mariah Carey, which received a standing ovation.  

Wigan Youth Zone celebrated its first-ever Young People Awards Event.

The Young People Awards Ceremony was hosted on Saturday, 20th of November 2021, at Wigan Youth Zone, highlighting achievements, stories of compassion and leadership demonstrated by our talented young people. 

Our Young People Awards recognise a variety of achievements by young people in Wigan and Leigh area. These awards highlight accomplishments across a range of categories, such as “The Bill Ainscough Rising Star Award” and “The Dave Whelan’s Sports Person of the Year Award”. The awards recognise the valuable contributions that our members are making in the local community today.  

In attendance at the Awards were two Wigan Youth Zone founders, Bill Ainscough and Martin Ainscough CBE DL and The Lady Smith DL, who presented “The Lord Peter Smith Community Hero Award” named after the former Leader of Wigan Council who sadly passed away earlier this year.  

Martin Ainscough surprised everyone on the evening by announcing that all the young people shortlisted would be invited for a two-night complimentary residential at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, which the young people were thrilled about. 

In addition to this, all members who were shortlisted for an award received a certificate of appreciation and the winners received a trophy along with a £75 gift voucher. The nominated individuals have managed to achieve great things, given back to their community and made a lasting difference at Wigan Youth Zone.  

Wigan Youth Zone celebrates Youth Work Week!

Wigan Youth Zone celebrated Youth Work Week 2021; a time dedicated to raising the profile of youth workers’ positive impact on young people. During Youth Work Week, we reflected on the long-term impact of social distancing and isolation on young people’s mental and physical health and well-being. 

Covid meant an unprecedented reduction in social interaction for us all and it has been encouraging to see demand for Wigan Youth Zone grow amongst our members following the lifting of restrictions.  Many young people returned with more significant needs than pre-Covid and its effects are still being felt. Clearly, the support of youth workers has never been more critical. 

We commemorated by saying thank you to everyone who makes youth work happen; youth workers, partners and back-office teams. There’s no doubt that youth work changes lives.  

Thank you to you all for your huge part in making a difference to young people. 

Christmas in the Community 2021

Wigan Youth Zone helped over 300 young people and families from Wigan and Leigh to ensure that they had a magical Christmas. The generosity and volume of support and donations received as part of the ‘Christmas in the Community Appeal 2021’ were overwhelming.  

Given the uncertainty around the Omicron variant of Covid-19, we adapted our vital in-person Family Christmas Meal event, which supports vulnerable families by giving them an unforgettable Christmas, by taking Christmas to their homes which took place on Wednesday the 22nd of December. 

Rather than a large family Christmas meal, entertainment and a Santa’s Grotto (the usual in-person event), Wigan Youth Zone brought some of that special Christmas magic to the family’s front doors.  

One family said: 

“A massive thank you to Wigan Youth Zone for our present hampers. This Christmas has been really hard due to my mum being very unwell and covid on top of everything else. We never expected something so big and we’re so grateful for everything you’ve really brightened up our Christmas and given that little bit more hope.” 

The gift of giving continued beyond the families’ front doors and reached the wider community as our volunteers also handed out over 150 festive selection boxes, colouring books and candy canes to young people they bumped into on their travels.  

The initiative was only possible through the generous contributions of the Wigan and Leigh community. Over the past eight years, it has become a tradition for people across Wigan Borough to come together as one to donate food, presents and household products to give to the people who need it most. 

Working out for your well-being!

Our members were put through their paces by a former rugby professional as part of a new 2022 ‘Workout for your Wellbeing’ programme.  

The six-week partnership was run by former Leigh Centurion player and founder of the wellbeing workout app, Banish, Jamie Acton. The programme was inspired by the personal mental health journey of Jamie and aims to help young people improve their mental well-being by increasing the amount of regular physical exercise they undertake. 

The Banish programme is now a staple in the Wigan Youth Zones offer and includes three face-to-face sessions with Jamie at the Youth Zone, as well as free unlimited access to the Banish app for everyone at the centre. 

After completing the 6-week programme Caitlyn Pearce, aged 17, said: 

“These sessions and using the Banish app at home, it’s made a really huge impact on my life. At first, I didn’t really think it was something that was going to make a big difference, but it has changed me, and I just feel good about myself.” 

“I’ve been quite a quiet person”, Caitlin said. “Lockdown didn’t help at all. Isolating, it was quite lonely. 

“I’m now very confident. I talk all the time. I’ll do whatever is thrown at me.” 

Safer in the dark with Wigan Youth Zone

Wigan Youth Zone launched a new ‘Safety Campaign’ in partnership with Wigan Council and Greater Manchester Police, which was designed to provide members with more information about personal safety.  

Wigan Council’s Community Safety Fund provided personal attack alarms that were distributed to the Youth Zone members, as part of a wider campaign which aims to ensure that young people feel safer in their community. The alarms can be attached to keys, handbags or held in hand and give off a loud siren when pressed, alerting others and drawing attention to any situation.  

Wigan Youth Zone’s “Safer in the Dark” Campaign educated young people in the community on simple safety measures to stay safe during the darker months. Our campaign aimed to ensure a safe and supportive environment for all members, with the project including sessions surrounding safety, posters, leaflets, online awareness and personal attack alarms.  

Sonny A, 12, Wigan Youth Zone Senior Member, said: 

“When you’re walking in the dark, it’s scary because you can’t see who is around you, and it can make you feel unsafe” 

Lexi J, 12, Wigan Youth Zone Senior Member, said: 

“A safety alarm would make me feel safe because of everything you hear in the news, and you can’t see very well in the dark.”  

Along with giving out 300 personal alarms to young people, we offered other initiatives such as Outreach and Detached Youth Work, which focuses on accessibility to the Youth Zone and building relationships with young people out in the community. 

Bee-lieve in your future!

Wigan Youth Zone’s very own senior members had their first taste of business finance this year, as they took part in the Young Enterprise Programme – a programme which gives young people the opportunity to run a business in real life.  

Through the help of our Enterprise Youth Workers, a team of entrepreneurial members created a business from scratch called Bee-Lieve – a brand designed to raise awareness of the declining population of bees throughout the UK and across the globe. The members worked hard to create a variety of bee-themed products, such as seed balls, cards, keyrings, stickers and more.  

The team have been able to develop confidence, work together as a team and improve their presentation skills, amongst other things, through completing tasks such as creating marketing materials, developing financial plans for their business and delivering presentations about themselves or their products.  

From designing logos for Dragons Den Pitches, selling at trade stands throughout the UK to presenting the Bee-Lieve team made it all the way to finals in the regional final and was recognised for numerous awards. Through this experience, our members developed great leadership skills and valuable time management techniques, which will help them in future employment opportunities. 

Wigan Youth Zone celebrates Annual Ball 22

The Wigan Youth Zone Annual Ball ‘22 was hailed a success after raising over £35,000 for the charity. Over 160 supporters were in attendance in their glad rags for the glitzy night, which returned on Saturday 5th of March, after a hiatus of two years due to Covid-19. 

The fundraising dinner’s theme was ‘Spring Back into Action’ where funds were raised to support Wigan Youth Zone’s vision of inspiring and empowering young people to fulfil their potential. 

Guests enjoyed a three-course dinner and took part in raising funds by entering the raffle and bidding on the auction prizes, including an elegant 5.33ct Diamond Bracelet valued at £10,000 donated by Neil Kay at Kay’s Arcade and a one-week stay in Barbados donated by the Whelan Family.  

Throughout the evening, entertainment was provided by Wigan Youth Zone members who produced some exclusive performances, especially for the event. 

Chairman of the Wigan Youth Zone Trustees, Richard Ainscough, said: 

“I am delighted that the Annual Ball has returned with such positivity, raising funds which will prove vital to the services of Wigan Youth Zone for the young people of our Borough.” 

“Thank you to everyone who made the night so successful – the Youth Zone team for their organisation, the young people for their stunning, brave performances and our Board for their tireless endeavours.” 

Nobody could have predicted the world we would find ourselves in over the last few years. It was hard to imagine back then that there could have been a more challenging time for young people who have so often appeared to be an afterthought in the consciousness of wider society. It was hard to imagine back then that there could have been more challenging. It was hard to imagine back then that there could have been a more challenging time for young people who have so often appeared to be an afterthought in the consciousness of wider society. Mental health issues, loneliness, isolation, difficult family relationships, digital poverty, increasing risks of turning to anti-social behaviour and food poverty are just some of the well-documented issues which young people have faced.  

Yet, whilst the pandemic has made these more prevalent, it would be a mistake to think these issues were not present beforehand. 

Wigan Youth Zone has not missed a beat for the young people of Wigan and Leigh since opening in 2013. I have been humbled by the energy, drive and determination of our diverse trustee and staff team to do whatever was needed to be there for the young people when they needed us most. The achievements would be too many to list, but some highlights for me have been the incredible partnerships that have developed across the borough, receiving national recognition for our exceptional youth work and seeing first-hand the tangible impact we have on the thousands of young people that engage with the Youth Zone every week. Underpinning all of this is a very robust charity which has excellent management and governance to ensure that every pound invested into the Youth Zone derives the maximum benefit –our social impact is 2.17, meaning that every donation into our community is more than doubled. 

This year’s reflection is bittersweet for me as it will be one of my last engagements as the Chair of Wigan Youth Zone, with personal and work commitments necessitating my need to step down after my three-year term. I can look back with much pride at work we have accomplished together and feel safe in the knowledge that I am leaving the charity in great shape and in the very safe hands of our Chair-elect, Gary Speakman, the board of trustees and the management team.  

They have the privilege of writing the next chapter of Wigan Youth Zone. 

But please do not forget that this incredible organisation is a charity that survives by virtue of its fundraising. It is proven that a donation to Wigan Youth Zone is a tangible investment in the future of our borough, so we invite you tonight to make that investment – to actively participate in the success of our future generations and, consequently, our community. 

To quote Churchill, “we make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give”. 


I find it both amazing and gratifying that no matter what challenges need to be faced, Wigan Youth Zone, its leaders, staff and members, continue to demonstrate the importance of their task with a peerless belief in themselves and a determination to succeed. Together, we will not allow anything to stand in the path of progress because Wigan and Leigh’s young people deserve the very best, and at Wigan Youth Zone nothing is going to stop them from getting it! 

This year’s annual review is a special celebration of young people. Wigan Youth Zone works across the Borough, whether that be through the DofE programme, activities in our Gym or Dance studio in the town centre hub or through our outreach programmes and sessions at a local level across Wigan and Leigh. We are supporting young people to be the best they can be and ensuring that they have every opportunity for their voices to be heard. 

We need continued support to invest in youth work and our young people. There are many ways you can support the charity through becoming a patron, volunteering, raising funds through community events and sponsorship or simply giving what you can, when you can. 

Wigan Youth Zone truly is a special organisation for our young people.  

None of this would be possible without your continued support, so thank you to everyone that has supported Wigan Youth Zone this year. Your commitment means so much; it is valued and appreciated by us all but most importantly by our young people. 



No one does Christmas like Wigan Youth Zone, always a magical time of year where hundreds of young people are welcomed to enjoy festive fun, Christmas Dinner and presents from Santa. However due to Covid-19, the coronavirus pandemic caused Wigan Youth Zone to cancel all of their vital Christmas events, which allows vulnerable families a Christmas to remember with the help from local community. 

The team fought creatively to ensure that nothing could stop a Wigan Youth Zone Christmas by bringing some Christmas Sparkle to over 300 family’s doors. Father Christmas and his elves delivered a Christmas decorated truck full of presents and food hampers to families who don’t have the opportunity to celebrate.  

Through the incredible support from the Wigan and Leigh community, 330 Wiganers received presents and a Christmas Dinner. Traditionally people across the Wigan Borough come together as one to donate food, presents and household products to give to the families who need it most.  

As well as boxing up a Christmas meal, receiving gifts off Santa, and a family hamper, Wigan Youth Zone also hosted a stay-at-home event for the whole family to enjoy. Wigan Youth Zone’s Big Night In was a festive celebration of all things Wigan Youth Zone, including entertainment from talented members, celebrity messages and a raffle!  

Over 3000 donations  

300 of food hampers  

100 CO-OP vouchers  

300 families helped  

330 young people who received presents  

300 Christmas dinners 

The Big Night In

1.6k viewers 

41 reactions 



85 live viewers  

And raised £10,000 

One family said: “This has been such a tough year, I thought we was going to have to cancel Christmas. I couldn’t thank those involved enough, I was in tears when I saw the kids see all of their presents.”  

Anthony Ashworth-Steen, Wigan Youth Zone’s Executive Director said: “I am blown away by the support we have received to help over three hundred people – once again the community of Wigan and Leigh has rallied together to support the young people and families most in need and I would like to thank everyone who supported for making this a reality. Through our collective efforts we have been able to support more people than ever before, demonstrating the need and the importance of the Mission Christmas campaign. As we look forward to 2021 we will continue to do everything we can to support the young people of Wigan and Leigh.  

With experience of working in informal education for over 15 years and a Masters in Educational Leadership, Anthony is always looking out for new ways to help support and empower young people in Wigan and Leigh. Since taking up his position in 2017, Anthony has been eager to build on past successes to further raise the profile of Wigan Youth Zone on a local, regional and national level (and has taken the organisation through a series of changes to help accomplish this.)


With over eleven years of experience and a degree in Events Management, Charlotte joined the team in 2019 and is passionate about sharing the amazing stories and memories that Wigan Youth Zone helps to create, as well as working as an inspiring mentor for young people.

Siky has attended and enjoyed youth clubs himself since the age of ten and has 15 years of experience as a youth worker. Joining us back in 2013, Siky’s mission is to help us ensure that we offer the best services for children and young people in Wigan.


As a qualified teacher with a specialism in music, Mike has worked with young people for the past ten years in a variety of settings, from young offenders institutes, to pupil referral units and behavioural schools. Originally working in the music department, Mike now heads up the Youth Zones’ mentoring programme, recruiting volunteers to match with and support our local young people.


Kate has been working with and for young people for over 15 years and has carried out various roles for us since 2013. She believes that the volunteers have an immeasurable impact on the Youth Zone and is passionate about the professional development of the team. Being a part of the community and fundraising events has given Kate some of her career highlights.


Former volunteer, Kim joined the team full-time in 2014 after completing a degree in Youth and Community Work, with years of involvement within her local church youth club behind her. Currently assisting with the coordination of enterprise and employability, Kim helps young people get on the right path by developing their skills in business and entrepreneurship. She said: “I do it because I really love it. I’m working in my dream job!”


With over 12 years experience in the corporate world, Lynsey joined us back in 2019, bringing a wealth of skills and knowledge with her. Lynsey loves connecting local businesses with the Youth Zone and as a proud Wiganer, is honoured to be raising funds, so that many other young people can go on to achieve their own dreams. Lynsey is a keen runner and is often seen out and about pounding the pavements to help raise the pennies!


Former volunteer at the Youth Zone, Jay has been working with young people for over 14 years and is responsible for planning, overseeing, and directing the operations of our lively recreational area, whilst also delivering a range of specialist training to other clubs across our network.


  • Robert brings over 15 years’ experience working in senior management roles within large charities and helps to put the paramount views of young people, parents and key stakeholders at the forefront of everything we do. Rob said: “The culture and belief in every young person is truly inspiring.”


As an artist herself and a long background of working creatively in the community, Catherine delivers a range of workshops and sessions at the Youth Zone, offering a calm and productive space for young people to create art and learn new skills. Catherine said: “I love my job at Wigan Youth Zone, it gives me a chance to empower young people and make them believe in themselves!”


Dave joined our team in 2016 through the Wigan Athletic Community Trust, having completed a degree in Community Football Coaching and Development. As a qualified sports coach and experience of working with Watford FC and Oxford United, Dave oversees an exciting range of indoor and outdoor facilities at the Youth Zone and manages a variety of action-packed activities and games for young people to enjoy.


With experience of working with young people for over five years now, Amy joins the team as our dedicated Pathway 2 Participation Coordinator, inspiring confidence and encouraging engagement with the Youth Zone. Amy works to support the mental and physical wellbeing within the local youth community, and said: “My passion is having a positive impact on young people and helping them to have a positive outlook on life.”


Over the past five years, Liz has worked with Onside to develop and deliver a bespoke leadership and management programme that supports managers within Youth Zones across the UK, helping them to achieve their full potential. Liz enjoys contributing to the safe and effective running of the Zone and credits the more unusual requests she gets to always putting a smile on her face, such as singing along in the Christmas video!


With a passion for empowering youth voice and creating safe spaces for young people to express themselves, Hannah is responsible for keeping the recreational area a fun and exciting place for young people to participate in all kinds of weird and wonderful activities!


Avid local sports fan, weekend triathlete and Chartered Accountant Paul lives with his young family in Shevington, and as a born and bred Wiganer, is keen to lend his professional skills and time to helping others in his community. Paul said: The biggest value is seeing the continued great work of the Youth Zone for the young people of Wigan and Leigh and the resulting growth and development of our members. It gives me great pride to be able to tell people I am involved with the Youth Zone.” 


As a mum and family lawyer, Charlotte is keen to go the extra mile with making positive changes in her community, ensuring that young people living locally have access to crucial provisions and resources at the Youth Zone. Charlotte said: “Hearing from our members helps bring home what we do as a board and what we are doing on a day-to-day basis for children living locally. My involvement goes a little way to help give something back.”


Susan’s career as a Regeneration Professional has spanned over 35 years, working around the country on a diverse range of projects. She is passionate about ensuring that young people are listened to, helping to provide them with the skills, opportunity and support to both recognise and exceed their potential. Susan said: “The partnerships that we have formed and strengthened over the last couple of years provides so much hope for the future of our borough and our young people.”

Wigan enthusiast Gary has enjoyed a long career working with some of the biggest brands in the UK and has been with the Youth Zone right from its roots, establishing the Charity as a founding patron. Gary said: “Right from the outset, I believed in what Wigan Youth Zone was seeking to deliver and the potential positive impact it could have on local young people, something close to my heart.”

After serving in the Royal Air Force and working in joinery and construction, Graham joined the children’s services in Wigan Council, where he has worked for the past 26 years. As a qualified social worker, he is Service Lead for the targeted Youth Support and Start Well services and joins us as the council’s dedicated representative. Graham said: “I value the opportunity to support and shape a range of opportunities for young people, helping them to develop important life skills and become positive members of society.”


Richard, owner of Network Space, a commercial property business in the north of England,  joined our chair in 2019, having been a patron for some years before. His charitable work is focussed on trying to help young people realise their full potential. A keen advocate of continuous improvement, Richard ensures that the youth zone is always looking to enhance the services it provides by listening to feedback and suggestions from our members.

As the owner and Chief Operating Officer of a large law firm, with experience of working as a commercial lawyer for 20 years prior, Jonathan advises the Youth Zone using his expert legal background and has been working with the charity since the beginning of its development. Jonathan said: “After becoming a member of the board, my middle son was diagnosed as having Autism Spectrum Condition, so the importance of supporting young people who face challenges in life is something that I have experienced first-hand. It is a privilege to be part of such a fantastic project.”


As a qualified Youth Worker and the Network Director of OnSide Youth Zones, Helen is passionate about serving as a Trustee and values the opportunity to stay connected with the Youth Zone offer, which she represents nationally. Helen said: “I love the creativity and can-do attitude of the team at Wigan Youth Zone- I know how dedicated they are to giving young people great opportunities and the support to succeed.”


Jackie Salt brings a wealth of digital marketing skills as Commercial Director of Wigan-based agency, ATTAIN. Since joining the board in April 2019, Jackie has advised on fundraising, events and marketing, as well as becoming heavily involved in Wigan Youth Zone’s Young Enterprise programme.

Gill has worked in local government for over 30 years, managing a range of front-line services as a Corporate Director and addressing important issues within her community. Now running her own business, Gill provides leadership and management training, qualifications and business coaching. She said: “I value being part of an organisation that helps to make a difference to so many young peoples’ lives, to enable them to develop new skills, gain confidence and to have the amazing opportunities the Youth Zone provides.”

Born and bred in Wigan, Nigel joined the board in 2018, having originally supported Wigan Youth Zone as a patron. Nigel brings a wealth of HR expertise, having run his own consultancy for 12 years. Nigel said: “I remember feeling how overwhelmed I was when I visited the site for the first time and seeing all the work they do. Who wouldn’t want to get involved and help those who change the lives of many young people!”

Daniela joined our team for a short fix term, but loved it so much and has stayed ever since! Daniela brings over ten years of experience in data and systems coordination, whilst also overseeing various HR tasks. She said: “I love how we make a real difference and I try to help when possible, running to raise funding and even taking a tandem skydive!”


Mike has spent the last seven years on the streets and parks of Wigan. Before that, he was a lot warmer, especially during his eight years in Slovakia! With successes as head teacher, sales manager and computer games designer, working all over the UK and beyond, Mike eventually returned to his roots to eat pies, watch rugby and help young people in the borough by pounding the pavement, running transport to the Youth Zone and delivering local youth groups.


During the height of Lockdown in 2020, X-Factor winner Sam Bailey gave free voice coaching sessions to two young Wigan Youth Zone members supported by Little Dreams Foundation.

Little Dreams Foundation, was set up in the year 2000 by husband and wife stars Phil and Orianne Collins as an international initiative to support young talent in music, arts and sports. 

 Sam, a huge Phil Collins fan, donated her time during the lockdown to conduct online training sessions to teach talented young singers Emily Pearce, 17, and Georgia Linde, 15, performance techniques including body and face movements as part of the programme. 

 Sam Bailey said; “I am loving working with Emily and Georgia from Wigan Youth Zone, they are two very talented young ladies with great potential and it’s great to be able to share some wisdom with them. Phil has been an inspiration for my whole family my entire life, so to be able to pay it forward in such a great way is fantastic!”  

Since the Youth Zones involved with the Little Dreams Foundation, the teens have had extraordinary opportunities such as flying out to Miami and performing with Phil Collins himself and other Little Dreamers. They have been supported by the foundation through Wigan Youth Zone for two years now and have developed massively both personally and musically. 

Georgia said: “I have had an amazing experience within the past two years being with the Little Dreamers. I never thought I would be able to experience such great opportunities, the favourite being singing with Phil Collins in Miami. I am thoroughly enjoying working on my new material and it has been amazing to work with Sam who is really helping me with my performance.” 

Nikki Varley, Deputy Head of Youth Work at Wigan Youth Zone said: “Our tagline at the centre is ‘Somewhere to go, Something to do, Someone to talk to’ and this messaging is more important than ever before with the current crisis at hand.  

Emily said: It feels amazing to get training off a celebrity who so many people know, we are fans of Sam, and she has years of experience in the industry that she can share with us. It’s been very empowering for me. The zoom sessions are something to look forward to and I’ve already learned a lot,” 

Ian encourages creativity to run wild at the Zone and has worked with bands and instruments for over 20 years. With experience of working in youth centres for over a decade, Ian ensures that there is something for every young person to try out, from guitar and drum lessons, singing and song-writing, DJ-ing skills and much more!


Wigan Youth Zone supported vulnerable young people and families during the October Half Term.

Wigan Youth Zone reacted quickly to the news that children will be without food support during the 2020 October half term and asked local families who needed support to get in touch. Wigan Youth Zone distributed over 120 food parcels and 50 food vouchers ensuring that Wigan children in need were able to get a meal during half-term. 

Since April 2020, Wigan YZ have been supporting local young people and their families with packages of support which included art and craft deliveries, one-to-one calls and digital support using Zoom and social media to engage and entertain those isolated at home. However, in response to the government’s position on free school meals the Youth Zone has been providing free holiday club and free school meal as part of the HAF provision.  

Youth Worker Andy Nicholls said:
“I was fortunate enough to deliver some of these to some of our families that I work with. The gratitude, the appreciation and smiles on the children’s and parent’s faces was something else. I am really taken aback as to how it impacted me. You just never know a families individual situation as much as you’d like to think you do. It was such a humbling experience.” 

One family said: 
“Oh wow. I can’t thank you enough. I’m sat here in tears. I’ve never asked for help in my life and I promise to return donations once we are back on our feet” 

Provided Free Entry for those on Free School Meals 

Free meals 

It does not take much imagination to recognise the incredible difference that Wigan Youth Zone has made during the pandemic to the quality of life of the local community. It is, however, hard to appreciate just how traumatic the last 12 months have been for many, and in turn, just how invaluable is the provision that Wigan Youth Zone provides. 

Our admiration for those selfless people who are providing the support is surely beyond words: it is simply priceless! 

We are so proud to have been able to add even further to our offer for young people this year, from a dedicated well-being team providing 1-1 holistic support for young people, to our inclusion team ensuring we are removing barriers to access the youth zone for young people with additional support needs and ensuring a level playing field for young people, and our dedicated group in partnership with Wigan Council for looked after children. 

This report provides a brief, but important glimpse of how vital Wigan Youth Zone is to the local community, and I share your admiration of our staff, our members, our wonderful volunteers and of course our vital supporters. Thank you for supporting us and allowing us to change lives in such a positive way. 


AJ has been working with young people for over 6 years, with a particular focus on inclusivity and helping marginalised young people feel more accepted in their community. They like to ensure that young people feel confident to take part in activities at the Youth Zone by taking part with them and accepting everyone. They’ll be easy to spot each session, with a range of funky earrings appropriate for the season and any holidays!


Karen ensures that everyone has access to a healthy meal at our café and has a wealth of experience in catering, previously working as a cook for 24 years before joining us. Having also led her local church youth group, Karen supports our mission to make the Zone a positive and supportive environment for any young person to feel welcomed into.


Previous office and admin volunteer at the Youth Zone, Steph formally joined our team back in 2014 and now looks after our day-to-day bookkeeping, taking on the important role of looking after payroll and accounts.


Charlotte joined the team on a part-time basis back in 2019 alongside studying for her Psychology and Criminology degree. During the past 2-and-a-half years, Charlotte has worked as a Receptionist and Girls’ Room Youth Worker, and since graduating from university has progressed into the full-time roles of Head of Reception and Well-Being Youth Worker here at Wigan Youth Zone. She is the first of an abundance of smiling faces you will see and is extremely passionate about encouraging young people to be the best versions of themselves!  


Chris has been working in the outdoors since 2005 and leads a variety of action-packed activities for young people to enjoy, managing our specialist equipment and facilities, whilst also overseeing our DofE programme. Chris is a trained mountain leader, rock-climbing instructor, paddle sports coach and first aider, and is always looking forward to the next exciting trip out!


CJ oversees our range of amazing facilities that we offer to local young people and is responsible for managing the health and safety here at the Zone, keeping everyone safe and sound! CJ can also often be found with a brew and biscuits with the cleaning team! 


Sharon enjoys arranging a wide range of fundraising events for Wigan Youth Zone and brings 15 years of corporate experience to the table. Sharon is always on the lookout for new partnerships, helping us to maintain vital relationships with many local businesses across Wigan and Leigh.


We first met Andy in the summer of 2013, where he was selling ice creams for us at an open day! A keen fundraiser, Andy has pedalled around the country for us and works closely day-to-day with youth participation, listening and closely involving our members in everything we do, as well as engaging with local schools and community projects.


Ben is a really passionate Youth & Community Worker and has always loved being involved in Youth Clubs, Youth Projects and anything out of schoolthe  time. Ben studied Youth and Community Work at University of Cumbria to study Youth and has worked across the Onside Network at Balckburn, Warrington and the best of all Wigan! “This team is so welcoming and supportive I can’t wait to welcome you to our amazing Senior Youth Club!”


The first of many smiling faces you will see, Chris has been with us since we first opened, starting part-time on the reception desk and progressing his way through to management! A key member of our busy team, Chris said: The best part of my job is seeing our young people coming through the doors to enjoy the activities that we have on offer seven days a week.”


Hayley is passionate about supporting young people and oversees various safeguarding responsibilities at the Zone, as well as working with our counselling partnership. She enjoys getting out and about on our community outreach programme and is a huge supporter of female empowerment. Everyone at the club knows Hayley for her love for animals, dance…and cheese!


Jack has worked with Wigan Community Trust since 2015 as a school sports coach, but is based right here at the Zone as our dedicated football officer. Jack relishes the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of young people through the power of sport and is keen to get more people passionate about football.


Nikki is passionate about providing young people with great experiences and opportunities by overseeing a variety of inspiring youth work. With qualifications in Media and Communications, Mental Health First Aid and British Sign Language, Nikki is always looking to expand her skills and try something new.


After training at college and stage School, Joe performed around Spain, eventually returning to his roots to teach dance for us, with previous experience of coaching behind him. Joe said: “I received offers to go back to Spain and go around the world on a cruise ship, but I saw an opportunity to develop here. I want the next generation of Wigan to be passionate about dance!


With more than 15 years of experience in HR, Lisa joined us back in 2013. She is passionate about ensuring that the health and wellbeing of the whole team is at the heart of our work and is committed to our mission of providing young people with the brightest futures possible- even taking on a tandem skydive, despite her fear of heights, to raise funds for us!



As the Director of a Licensed Insolvency Practice, Lisa has spent the last 25 years providing critical advice and support to those who find themselves in financial difficulty. Her passion for helping others doesn’t stop there, as she is keen to use her time and skills to make a difference to the lives of young people in Wigan & Leigh. Lisa said: “At the heart of all the decisions we make, we should always keep the best interests and focus on the young people we are trying to support.”