Youth based charity, EMPOWER, has today responded to findings released by national youth charity OnSide that highlight the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on the out-of-school lives of young people, as well as the role youth centres play in giving them a way out of this ‘cost of living lockdown’.

Generation Isolation surveyed 5,072 young people, of which 15% were from the North West, aged 11-18 in England, in partnership with YouGov. Many of the findings are startling, highlighting how the cost-of-living crisis is keeping young people ‘locked down.’

The report’s key findings are:

EMPOWER is an umbrella charity which currently oversees operations of HideOut Youth Zone (East Manchester) and is set to oversee development of a new Youth Zone based in Salford which received planning permission in September 2023. Both Youth Zones are part of the OnSide network.

CEO of EMPOWER, Adam Farricker, said:

“Youth clubs like HideOut Youth Zone and the new Youth Zone based in Salford are an untapped solution to the issues highlighted in the Generation Isolation report – because they give young people access to  vital character-building opportunities and affordable activities that boost confidence, build  skills for adulthood and, through access to trusted youth workers, help them navigate the pressing challenges and worries they face such as the cost of living.”

Kerin Morris, Deputy Head of Youth Work at HideOut, the OnSide Youth Zone in Gorton, East Manchester said:

“Young people have had a rough time. We told them to stay indoors and to socialise online during Covid, then came the cost-of-living crisis, and lots of them are finding they’re either struggling to afford the basics like food and clothing, or their families can no longer afford the same opportunities they used to. For some young people staying in their bedroom feels safer, easier and cheaper.

“We can spot the young people who have spent a lot of time indoors on their phones, as while they might have great tech skills, they can sometimes be more reclusive and less likely to join in or start a conversation. Instead of scrolling or playing games on their phone, we encourage them to engage in our programmes at the Youth Zone, like join in a game of basketball or try a drama session – all for 50p a visit. And it’s through activities like these that youth workers build positive and trusting relationships and get to find out who our young people are.

“We support their needs, and we help them to find their passions and gain opportunities and experiences to learn about the real world.”

This is backed up by the Generation Isolation research which shows the positive effect attending a youth centre has on young people. Young people who attend a youth centre in the North West say it has helped them overcome difficulties and 89% say it allows them to learn new skills. Generation Isolation also shows that youth club attendees have richer social lives because they spend more time face-to-face with friends (21% spend most of their free time with their friends vs 13% of those in the North West).

In addition, the research highlights that young people who attend youth centres are better prepared for adulthood than those who don’t – just 11% of young people who attend youth  clubs said they do not have the opportunity to learn the skills to help them become independent like cooking, managing money, accessing employment, compared to 22% of all young people.

However, there is a lack of widespread opportunity to gain these benefits, with just 7% of young people in the North West currently attending a youth centre and 49% saying they do not have a youth club near them.

One of the young people supported by HideOut Youth Zone is Max Scanlon, 17, said: “My passion is writing and performing music. To spend an evening in a studio would cost £100 an hour at least, which is totally out of my reach. For 50p entry I can spend the evening making music at HideOut.

“Everything costs a lot of money now, friends are struggling to pay for things like basketball courts or gyms. In the Youth Zone you can do all of that and have food as well. There are loads of things to do, it’s hard to get bored.

“I don’t think I could meet anyone more professional or knowledgeable than the youth workers even if I was spending £100 for a professional studio. I’m studying songwriting in college now and I know that when I apply to university the extra time I’ve put in at HideOut will really help my application. If you have a dream, the youth workers help you achieve it. They put a mic in your hand and everyone cheers you on, people here want to see you succeed in whatever you want to do.”

HideOut Youth Zone has supported over 7,300 young people across Manchester since opening in September 2020, providing 7 days a week access to activities, opportunities and support from youth workers for just 50p a session and £5 a year membership.

The new Youth Zone in Salford, which is to begin development in spring 2024 and set to open the following year, is predicted to support thousands of young people across the city by providing them with somewhere safe to go, something positive to do and someone trusted to talk to.

This is vitally important as Generation Isolation also highlights the mental health challenges faced by the region’s young people. 49% of young people in the North West report high or very high levels of anxiety**. When asked why, the top reasons were: what people thought about them (47%), worries about the future (45%), and exam pressure (36%).

To read the full Generation Isolation report visit:

To find out more about HideOut Youth Zone and the new Salford Youth Zone visit

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