Holloway youth hub is changing lives for thousands of teenagers

In the year since Islington’s ground-breaking youth arts venue opened, thousands of teenagers have benefited from its many services.

And for some, the Platform Youth Hub in Hornsey Road, Holloway, has had a life-changing impact, providing youngsters with an alternative to hanging around on the streets and offering them the chance to discover acting, dancing or musical talents.

The Islington Council facility – in the former Hornsey Road Baths laundry – took several years to build at a cost of �3million. It houses a theatre complete with backstage areas, performance spaces, dance studio, high-tech media suites, a recording studio for budding singers and songwriters, and a cafe for youngsters to socialise in.

Not only is it the only venue of its kind in the capital, it has also been heralded for its pioneering approach of employing young people to manage the centre and enlisting teenagers to advise on the timetable.

One of six young duty managers is Desara Bosnja, 20, an up-and-coming actress.

She said: “It has provided the opportunity for people to come and be creative and use professional equipment and resources as and when they like. And where it’s situated is a symbol – at the front there’s a relatively wealthy residential area and the other side is on the cusp of the Andover estate where people are less well off. Regardless of background, everyone is involved and has the same opportunities.

“The fact that it has been created by young people and it is run by young people ensures they are at the heart of it and provides what they want and need, and help on finding a job. Platform helps people to see a future, it’s not just a case of coming to the odd workshop.

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“There are loads of kids from the Andover who we see on Saturday nights, about 25 of them come and watch a film and enjoy themselves. That’s three hours when they’re in safe hands.”

Islington Council’s executive member for children, schools and families, Cllr Richard Watts, said: “The young people that have been involved in various stages feel incredibly proud of what they have achieved and the sense of ownership they have over the centre. It’s extremely pleasing to see.

“Platform provides an absolutely exceptional quality of facilities for our young people in a bit of the borough that had nothing like this at all.

“Given the massive financial pressure from the government and the decisions that most councils have taken to cut back on youth services, I think the success of Platform has proved how important it is to continue investing in young people.”