For the second year running, Carlisle Youth Zone (CYZ) ran its ‘Winter Warm Zone’ initiative, a practical response to the ongoing cost of living challenges, which deepen for many families during the winter period.

Removing all costs, Winter Warm Zone sees CYZ waive its already subsidised entrance fee (50p), annual membership (£5), and hot meal (£1) costs across all of its Youth Clubs between December 2023 and March 2024.

As a result, an incredible 850 free memberships, 13,360 free club entries and 7,385 free meals have been provided to young people aged 7 – 18yrs (up to 25yrs with additional needs) in Carlisle, exceeding the reach achieved in the previous year.

CYZ chief executive, Caroline Taylor-Beswick said: “We know from listening to young people and families that CYZ is a trusted source of consistent and reliable support for many in the city. Children and young people choose to come to CYZ to have fun, learn and discover new experiences, as well as speak with our highly skilled youth workers who support them navigate the increasing day-to-day challenges they are facing.

"We knew that with the cost of living crisis continuing to take hold for many families, we needed to once again work with our supporters to enable us to go even further for our young people and families over the winter period. I’m hugely proud and thankful that we have been able to welcome so many young people through our doors, providing access to a nutritious meal and a warm and safe environment at CYZ which, for some young people in Carlisle, would otherwise have been beyond their reach."

Young people attending were in no doubt that the winter warm zone had been much-needed, with one member commenting: "My family did not have to worry about providing a meal for me after school."

Whilst the Winter Warm Zone initiative has now concluded, the youth work offer from CYZ is springing forwards, with plenty of sessions, including eight youth clubs a week, available this season.

All sessions have returned to just 50p entry, with financial support still available for those who may need it.