Council chiefs have welcomed the reopening of Wolverhampton’s state of the art youth zone to more children and young people for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

The Way began running evening sessions for limited numbers of visitors, bookable in advance, from Monday 13, July, and intends to deliver more evening sessions, mentoring, detached work, a targeted holiday club and a new dinner club, providing affordable and healthy meals for families for £1, this month.

To ensure the safety of young people, staff and volunteers, social distancing and additional hygiene measures are in place, with up to 40 visitors able to attend The Way at any one time, in ‘bubbles’ of 10. 

The centre had to close its doors in late March but was able to provide remote support to around 4,500 children and young people online and over the phone. This service is continuing.

Councillor John Reynolds, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "The Way is a fantastic facility which we should all be very proud to have in our city.

“It managed to keep hundreds of children and young people active, entertained and engaged online throughout the coronavirus pandemic and it's great news that it has now reopened its doors in a Covid-secure way and is providing face to face activities to dozens of visitors every day.

“Obviously, the full range of activities will not be available immediately, but I would encourage children, young people and families to take advantage of the opportunities which are now on offer." 

Carla Priddon, CEO of The Way Youth Zone, said: “At the start of the coronavirus crisis, we pivoted our delivery model to ensure thousands of youngsters could still gain vital access to trusted, professional youth workers remotely. 

“Youth services are an essential part of helping a generation of young people that stand to be hit hardest by the economic, social, health and mental wellbeing implications of the crisis for many years to come. Achieving this whilst protecting the health and wellbeing of young people, employees, volunteers and the wider community is our primary focus.

“We are delighted to be up and running in person once more, and it’s great to be able to welcome children and young people back into our centre. We will continue to monitor and review the coronavirus restrictions and respond accordingly.”

The £5.5 million Youth Zone was developed by national charity OnSide Youth Zones, the City of Wolverhampton Council and the local business community and opened in 2016. 

In more normal times it supports over 1,000 young people aged eight to 19, and up to 25 for those with additional needs, each week, offering state-of-the-art facilities including basketball courts, football pitch, climbing walls, dance studio, fully-equipped gym, music room and a gaming room, all for just 50p a visit.

For more information please visit The Way Youth Zone.

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit Stay Safe, Be Kind.