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Harnessing creativity of Islington’s youngsters at heart of Old Street youth centre

PUBLISHED: 10:39 27 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:46 03 October 2017

Youth club Soapbox launched on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the regeneration of the Redbrick Estate in Old Street. Photo by Steve Bainbridge

Youth club Soapbox launched on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the regeneration of the Redbrick Estate in Old Street. Photo by Steve Bainbridge

Steve Bainbridge

Harnessing the creativity of youngsters is at the heart of a youth centre that opened its doors in Old Street last week.

Youth club Soapbox launched on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the regeneration of the Redbrick Estate in Old Street. Photo by Steve BainbridgeYouth club Soapbox launched on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the regeneration of the Redbrick Estate in Old Street. Photo by Steve Bainbridge

Run by charity the Dragon Hall Trust, Soapbox features a radio and music studio in a building that has already housed 3D printing workshops and music production sessions with the London Symphony Orchestra.

The centre – set to host weekly music, dance, comedy, spoken word and theatre performances – is part of the redevelopment of the Redbrick Estate, which will see 39 homes built for social rent, alongside better outdoor spaces and new shops.

Dozens of young people tried their hand at some of the activities on offer at the launch on Thursday last week, including deputy young mayor of Islington Tega Agbede.

“This is a beautiful, well-designed youth centre and I think it gives a good vibe and life to the community, and a foothold into the working world,” he said.

Youth club Soapbox launched on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the regeneration of the Redbrick Estate in Old Street. Photo by Steve Bainbridge Youth club Soapbox launched on Wednesday, September 27, as part of the regeneration of the Redbrick Estate in Old Street. Photo by Steve Bainbridge

“It is bringing technology into the area and allows young people to bridge the gap in circumstances where otherwise they wouldn’t be able to.”

In addition, “discover” workshops for kids with learning disabilities will include music production, coding and radio workshops, while schools are expected to be offered use of the facilities.

Flexible spaces mean one room can serve as a dance studio, cafe, meeting or training area, while other rooms can be let as workspace for the creative industries.

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council’s education chief, said: “I’m really pleased that Dragon Hall are on board and I know they have got some amazing plans for this place. There is a real feeling that a lot of the activities here can lead to some exciting opportunities in the tech and creative industries.

“Services for young people are always one of the first to get cut across the country, but Soapbox shows that we are committed to investing in our young people even when it is difficult to do so.”

Thee council’s redvelopment of the Redbrick Estate is part of its commitment to providing 2,000 affordable homes between 2015 and 2019, including 500 council homes.

Soapbox will be open Monday to Friday from 4pm to 8pm, with a range of drop-in activities at the weekend. For more information go to the Soapbox website.

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