Charity Founders make way for fresh Board and new era for Wigan Youth Zone
A number of WYZ’s Board members, including founding Trustees, will step down at the beginning of April. Nine members will formally resign, making way for a fresh team of local business leaders who will guide, direct and shape the future of the charity.
The original inspiration behind Wigan Youth Zone, Trustees David Whelan and Martin and Bill Ainscough confirmed their resignation from the Board after ten years at the helm of the charity. In addition, Board members including local businessman Anthony Hitchen, retired Headmaster Geoff Ashton, our treasurer Clare Higham, Business Ambassador Bernard Edmunds, local golf giant Dave Clarke and retired accountancy partner David Fairhurst, will also step down. They have all been instrumental in the fundraising and operation of the Youth Zone over the years.
“The Youth Zone was our vision. It gives us a tremendous sense of pride to see how that has become a reality and continued to thrive over the past five years, with the support of our patrons, the local community and the Council,” says Mr Whelan. “In terms of memories, the grand opening of the Youth Zone with the FA Cup is certainly a day I will never forget. To see our dreams come to fruition and thousands of families celebrate this positive new addition to the Borough was extremely special.”
During their time at the helm, our Board members have seen the charity develop and soar. Since opening, we have welcomed almost 23,000 members and seen over 17,000 visits to our holiday clubs. Our team has delivered a total of over 15,000 hours of youth work provision, getting young people involved in a plethora of activities including a fully-equipped gym, sports hall, outdoor pitches, climbing wall, arts room, dance studio, skate park, and music – including a radio station and recording studio. None of this would have been possible without the support of the Board.
We have continued to develop, increasing our offer with funded and targeted projects – adding additional strands of support to the Youth Zone members who need it most. We have launched the free eight–week employability course ‘Get a Job’, leading 16-24 year olds into training and employment with team building, CV and interview guidance. We have also delivered hundreds of weekly targeted workshops including LGBTQ, body image and healthy relationships.
Enterprise has also been an exciting area of opportunity for our members, with weekly ‘Young Enterprise’ sessions at the centre, developing new business ideas and nurturing young people’s entrepreneurial spirit. Three years ago,we launched our own charity stall at Wigan Market, where young members hone their marketing and sales skills by selling discounted sports clothing, whilst also raising much-needed funds for the Youth Zone.
The market stall launch was of particular significance to Mr. Whelan, who started his illustrious career in a similar setting, just feet away from our stall. Mr. Whelan said of the project:
“The development of the Youth Zone’s market stall was a personal highlight of mine. Watching young Youth Zone members learn the skills of market trading just a short distance from where my retail career began was very special.”
After five years of amazing outcomes and impact, it was an ideal time for us to take stock – developing a new five-year strategy and looking ahead to a bright, exciting future. The Board felt it was the right time to step down and pass the reins to a younger, fresh leadership team who could build on our successes and move forward.
To take the Youth Zone into our new chapter, Martin Ainscough has passed the baton of Chairmanship to Richard Ainscough – Martin’s second cousin and son of fellow WYZ founder, Bill Ainscough. Richard has vast experience in business and leadership, running a successful multi-regional commercial property business, having worked in the sector for over 15 years. His passion for the charity has been evident for some time. Richard has supported us here at the Youth Zone as a patron and also offered hands-on support as a business adviser to members, as part of the ‘Young Enterprise’ project. Bill Ainscough, Richard’s father and Vice-President of WYZ said of the change:
“It is with mixed feelings that I am retiring as a Trustee of Wigan Youth Zone. I have been most fortunate to be involved in the project from site procurement, to planning and design stages, through to the delivery of the completed building. Most enjoyable of all though is that I have witnessed young people over the past six years benefit and progress as a result of its positive influence. I have been humbled and overjoyed at the results. It is, however, time to step aside and allow a younger and more energetic team to take over. I am particularly proud that my younger son Richard will be taking over as Chair from my cousin Martin, who has worked extremely hard from the beginning to make the Youth Zone the success it is today. Finally I would like to thank all of our donors, staff and volunteers for the excellent work they do in supporting and sustaining this outstanding project for the benefit of the young people of Wigan.”
Alongside our Executive Director Anthony Ashworth-Steen and our committed team of staff members, Richard and the Board will be looking to improve our offer over the next five years. Currently there are almost 4,000 members here at the Youth Zone. Over the coming five years it is our ambition to have as many members as possible attending sessions regularly, as we know the positive impact this can have on the lives of young people. We aim to sign up 15% of all young people aged 8–19 in Wigan and Leigh by 2022.
Outreach will be a key area of this growth. Over the coming year we intend to source income to expand the outreach provision and increase the number of satellite centres, transport pick-ups and the number of youth workers walking the streets to positively engage with young people. Such interventions are proven to have a positive impact on the community, for example since the launch of our Platt Bridge satellite centre, the local fire service reported a 50% reduction in secondary fires which they believe could be attributed to the new centre’s presence.
On top of these new areas of expansion, our core facility will continue to engage with and inspire 8-19 year olds (up to 25 with additional needs) for years to come, with our amazing programme of daily activities including sports, performing arts, dance and music sessions. Mr. Whelan has every confidence in the charity’s future:
“This is our legacy, but it’s also a facility to be nurtured and enjoyed by future generations. Whilst I’ll continue to support the Youth Zone, I look forward to the wider community taking ownership of this wonderful organisation and seeing it flourish for many more years to come.”
To support the existing leadership team with their vision for the future, we are looking for passionate, extremely experienced local business men or women to fill the remaining two spaces on our board – HR Adviser and Deputy Chair. If you are motivated to support the charity and feel you could add value to our charity’s board then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01942 612061.