HideOut Youth Zone is a charity dedicated to supporting young people aged 8-19 by providing the things which all young people need and deserve. Every donation goes directly towards supporting Manchester’s young people to lead healthier, happier, more aspirational lives. Godel has proudly been a founder patron since 2019.

In this episode of The Godel POD, Michael Hannah, Service Delivery Lead and Rianna Mistry, Marketing Assistant at Godel are joined by Adam Farricker, CEO of the Hideout Youthzone to discuss how far the Youthzone has come since opening, what support means from Manchester based businesses and how proud they are to be Mancunian.

The podcast was recorded at the HideOut Youth Zone. This is an edited transcript, for more conversations on the latest in tech, subscribe to The Godel POD on Podbean and Spotify.

Podcast transcript

Michael Hannah: Hi everyone, welcome to The Godel POD. My name is Mike Hannah. I’m one of the Service Delivery Leads over at Godel. My Co-host today is

Rianna Mistry one of our Marketing Assistants and we’re sitting in front of the CEO of the HideOut Youth Zone, Adam Farricker. Thanks for spending some time with us today.

Adam Farricker: Thanks for inviting me and thanks for coming down.

Michael Hannah: We’ve a lot of questions for you today! It’s my first time visiting the youth centre. Funnily enough, I used to live about 5 minutes up the road but never actually knew was here. Honestly, going into today I was pretty impressed with the building, what’s actually in there from the moment you step in here. You’ve got the climbing walls, you got all these rooms labelled up with the boxing, the music zone. It’s pretty remarkable, as well as the location as you drive it up.

Adam Farricker: That’s part of the idea that we’re always building prominent positions on the main routes of the city centres. And then, as you said, a lot of people when you explain what the youth zone is what we do, you don’t know until you walk through the door and see for yourself, you’ve got to experience and see first hand what it is that we’re doing here.

Michael Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. I guess to kick things off, what was the initial idea, what was the reason you established the youth zone?

Adam Farricker: It goes back a lot further than the amazing individuals we have got at the hideout. The youth zone charity was established going back maybe about 10-11 years ago now. And it was the inspiration of a very well known businessman Bill Holroyd, and the CEO of Bolton girls and lads club at the time, the youth zone model is based on the Bolton girls and lads club model.

I think Bill came on board around 2010, probably earlier than that, as the chairman of the charity, we brought him in and he was just so inspired by what’s going on at the youth zone. And he said this is just too good to just have one, we need these all around the Northwest. So we were the 14th youth zone to open when we opened back in 2020, actually the second one in Manchester. So that’s where the initial inspiration for the youth zone model comes from.

In terms of HideOut youth zone itself, I was working at the council at the time, I was heading up the youth Department and we were approached by businessman Fred who was the big coupled all of it basically the story goes he and his friends were there Dave. When he got there, he was blown away as soon as he walked through the door, it just wasn’t what he expected it to be. He spent three and a half hours there speaking to people speaking to the staff speaking to the volunteers, and he was just so blown away by what he saw. He come back to Manchester a couple of weeks later, when Howard Bernstein he was the chief executive of the council at the time and he said we’d seen and he asked how to make that happen in Manchester. He said I want to make it happen, find me a place where the most need is and tell me how much it’s going to cost to make it happen.

At the time like I said, I was heading up the youth department, I met Fred, met his representatives, we looked at where the most need was in the city need and Gorton was off the charts for many different reasons; socio-economic reasons but also just based on not being a lot for your people to do in the city. So we identified Gorton, Fred loved it and that’s how we started, 6 million pounds of his own money, the council put one and a half million in and provided the land for free. And then we brought on sages youth zone in to help manage and designed the facility and that’s how we’ve done it.

Michael Hannah: That’s impressive. Crazy how many people are involved to get it to where it is now?

Adam Farricker: Yeah, that’s just obviously the capital funding the capital projects once the building was developed. But before that, we had to secure at least the first three to four years of revenue from the numbers required. So that was when we found the founder patron campaign, a company of which Godel is one of the very first companies to come on board. Very grateful for that. Because that allowed us to make sure that when we open the doors we knew we had a good running for the first few years. We’re open seven days a week and it costs about 1.5 million pounds to run. It’s a big project, but we’re doing some good things so far to make it run.

Michael Hannah: I think one of the things you mentioned at the start as well as like, the over and week one that immediately as soon as you walk in, to start feeling it. Yeah, this is bigger than I thought. Like I said to you when I walked into the building, you think immediately think of a building next to a church, an empty room next to the pool hall, a tiny little kitchen and that’s the youth zone, headed up by one or two volunteers. That’s all I ever saw growing up.

Adam Farricker: It was the same for me. I’ve worked in youth services since 16 years of age. Going back to the inspiration for this project for me on a personal level. I’m from the area, I know what the need is while I also believe the impact that something like this would have for many, many years. Sometimes it’s more about the youth workers and the staff and the volunteers and having those environments, not just the facilities. But what we wanted you to do here with young people is that we’re investing the best in you because you deserve it.

Rianna Mistry: So you spoke about founder patrons and Mike, you mentioned about the facilities. So what else do you do? Because we mentioned before, just a pool table next to the church, but you’ve got like cooking classes, the recording studio facilities. What else does the youth zone bring to the children of Gorton and East Manchester?

Adam Farricker: What we’re trying to do is provide anything that a young person wants to do when they visit the youth zone. Whether it’s sports, arts, health and well being, support around the playability, or further education enterprise. We will find a way, and if we haven’t got the facilities or the activities within the youth zone to do so we’ll bring in partners who have the expertise to do so. It’s basically trying to provide a platform for young people to empower them to want to improve their life chances.
So yeah, the facilities are amazing as I’ve said, we deliver more than 20 activities every day. Or everything we do is more about developing the relationship with the person, that’s what youth work is about. So whether they come and use the gym, whether they use the music room, the art room for painting, whatever is to get them in the youth zone. Our staff will then start to build relationships with them and trusting relationships hopefully then once they build that trust, we can help them in all areas of their life and encourage them to take part in different activities as well. So there might be people who are just interested in the gym and the fitness side of things, but within six months, they’re on the climbing wall.

Rianna Mistry: Do you have any success stories?

Adam Farricker: Yes, we’ve got loads! We’ve got young people who have come through the enterprise projects and gone on to secure employment. We’ve got young people who come initially didn’t have very much confidence and self-esteem and didn’t want to talk to any young people, they’d just come in and sit in the back area and play the PlayStation. We have one particular lad who just finished a boxing programme and at the end of it had an open sparring session. Parents and caregivers came in, it got him thinking much more about nutrition and healthy choices not being fuelled by sweets and fizzy drinks. We don’t tell the kids you can’t do that. But you will see that we educate them and allow them to make informed decisions and again, that’s what’s different about the youth zone. We are not teachers. We’re not social workers. We’re not the mums and dads or carers. We’re there to educate them to help them make their own decisions, we will always be there to help them to reflect and learn from the decisions. So yes, we have so many success stories.

Michael Hannah: It just links back to what you said about someone coming, just wanting to do a bit of boxing and or an opportunity to play on the games console who doesn’t have the access to one at home. But it’s everything that comes with that. The social elements, having the opportunity to actually see someone else cooking having never cooked before. The friendships and the relationships that get built off the back of it the confidence levels, some people just don’t get the opportunity outside of here.

Adam Farricker: For some people, it’s a safe environment, school isn’t always a safe environment for young people or the community where they live. Just coming here two-three hours in a safe environment where they know they can speak to someone. Hopefully, if our team is doing the job well, after a few weeks after a few months we’ll see they’re participating in different positive activities, and help innovative people to engage in the youth zone as well.

Michael Hannah: Have you noticed a difference post-COVID, with the kids coming back in and seeing different levels of anxiety or social skills, and confidence? Have we seen a drop?

Adam Farricker: Our journey and our story of how we opened, we actually got the keys and the practical completion date for the building in terms of the contractors giving us the keys was at 12pm on the 23rd of March 2020. At 8pm that night, Boris announced the first lockdown. So the same day he got the keys to the building, we went into a national lockdown. We had just recruited about 16 or 17 of our core full-time staff team at that point. None of them are eligible for furlough because they all started after the February cut-off point. So it was a mad 24 or 48 hours in terms of thinking what are we going to do here? Ever since that point, we just focused on what we could do rather than what we couldn’t, just as Godel did. You adapt, you stay agile and you make sure that you function on things that you can do, rather than letting things stop you.

We’ve got disadvantaged people and we had to show them. You have to keep moving forward. Yes it was difficult in that within such a short space of time. There’s a whole cohort of people who wouldn’t have been on anybody’s radar in terms of emotional support or health and wellbeing issues that quickly moved into that threshold because they were locked up, they weren’t just locked down. Some don’t have the luxury of gardens and stuff like that, so in lockdown, they were literally in their homes 24 hours a day. It’s a very, very difficult time. Some families had their work and employment status changed. So there was more pressure in the home environment, a lot was going on at the time. I think that disproportionately affected people, primarily disadvantaged people. We tried to do as much as we could, within the restrictions and government guidance that we will given.

As restrictions have eased over the last 9-12 months, we’ve been able to do more and more and been able to bring young people back in and make sure that they participate in positive activities as well as when there were the required needs, we can we bring in partners and signpost companies Children’s and young adult mental health services, other charities and channels to provide that emotional support.

Rianna Mistry: You mentioned COVID being a key challenge, but have there been any other big challenges when establishing the youth zone, as well as getting it started, being in lockdown, has there been anything else as well?

Adam Farricker: I think COVID is definitely the biggest challenge we’ve had just in terms of being able to keep momentum and keep consistency in terms of what we’re delivering because you’re on point to be able to deliver in a certain way with certain people for three months and not to completely change them enough to deliver in a different way. So it was the inconsistency of the messaging that we were putting out to children and young people and the parents and carers in bringing people to the session. For example, one thing we would have never implemented was a booking system. The whole purpose of the youth zone is open access to universal voluntary engagement to come and go as they please and leave at any point.

With COVID we had to pre-book all activities so that we knew exactly what young people were in the building, what sessions they had attended, so we could track and trace etc. So it changed the whole dynamic of how that relationship initially was developed. But it was much more structured, kind of premeditated not necessarily what the youth zone initially would have been. It was a disaster, it was just a different way of initially developing relationships with the children. But we’ve gone through that now. We’re now in about a better place where we’re delivering exactly what we wanted to deliver from day 1. So it could have been worse, like I said we focused on what we could do at the time and cracked on.

Michael Hannah: It had to be done, it’s not like there was an option. I guess on the flip side other than what we’ve spoken about so far. What is the number one achievement that either yourself or the youth zone has achieved?

Adam Farricker: I think just how well we’ve established ourselves in the City of Manchester which was a short space of time given that we opened at the peak of the pandemic. We officially opened to the public in September 2020. So in that first year, we still managed to secure over 4,500 members. Members from across Manchester, East, North, and central Manchester right from across the city. And we’re engaging over 1000 young people a week, on average 50 young people every night. We’re open seven days a week all year round. So despite the pandemic and despite the issues we faced, we were closed over the last two years was Christmas Day 2020 and Christmas Day 2021. We’ve been open every day, every bank holiday. Any celebration every festival because we recognise sometimes that they’re the times when people need us most. So in November 2021 we became a registered real living wage employer and everybody’s now paid a living wage. Not just as a service provider but as an organisation, as an employee in a large organisation we’re already focused on supporting the development of our workforce as well as the children and young people that we work with.

Michael Hannah: So all the activities you’ve got in the building that young people have access to, you also do the employability workshops as well to take people on their own journey and obviously if and when they do step away from the youth zone.

Adam Farricker: Yeah, the whole purpose of youth work is not to hold on to young people, not make them dependent on us, if the opposite to be interdependent is the main power to move on and live successful lives. We can’t do it on our own. We have to do that with all of our partners, our support and our patrons as well. So even when I was initially having conversations with Neil McMurdo and Michelle Nock about Godel coming on board as a founder patron. Of course the financial support we get is critical to allow us to do what we do day to day. What’s more important is the pathways we can create for young people. There are lots of young people who didn’t even know your career, your kind of environment exists, or what tech is. When you go into your offices and look at how local and young the workforce is, it inspires what children from this part of Manchester would never see.

What Godel is doing is opening the doors, and creating those pathways and opportunities for these kids because they’ve got all the potential and the aspirations in the world, it just having the opportunity, and our founder patrons, our other partners, it’s the most valuable thing they can give together. It’s not just about funding, it’s about the opportunities and pathways we can create by working closely together.

Rianna Mistry: We’ve actually got a young person coming in the next few months to do some work experience. I think he’s doing software development.

Michael Hannah: I bumped into him, he was having a tour of the office. Looking forward to having him on board
Rianna Mistry: You touched on the founder patrons like Godel being one of them to support how we can, but what does it mean to get continued support from other founder patrons as well as ourselves?

Adam Farricker: It means everything to us because it generates around 70% of funding from the founder patron campaign. The beauty of the patron campaign is that its restricted funding. So when you donate as a patient, as an organisation, you’re not saying we want you to deliver five employability programmes or six health programmes, you’re committed to supporting our core offer because you believe in what we do. And that unrestricted funding allows us to develop what we know we need to do day in day out.

It’s so hard to get unrestricted funding these days, especially for youth work when you work because everybody wants to support projects about the violence or projects around mental health projects around ant0gang work, all these targeted short term funding opportunities are there and they’re great. But what’s the hardest thing to secure is just universal open youth funding. And that is the most important thing because that’s what’s going to have a real impact over the long term. And I’ve seen that firsthand. I’m a product of that. That I’m very passionate about. That that’s what the patron campaign can bring. We are we’re coming to the end of our first patron cycle now and we’re looking for as many supporting patrons as we can. And a second aim is to become the number one youth charity in Manchester, when you think of children and young people, you think of us. That’s the aspiration. We want people to think of the HideOut youth zone when they think of young people.

Michael Hannah: I guess that’s where we can as patrons, as partners, that’s where we come in as well. The network that we’ve got, obviously support we support different charities which probably leads us nicely on to the Manchester run.

Rianna Mistry: Obviously, supporting the youth zone is absolutely brilliant. Why this specific event though?

Adam Farricker: It’s an event in Manchester that everybody knows and everybody loves it. Last year, we featured on BBC and our gym instructor Jason talked about it and he said, You always think the great Manchester being a Mancunium and everyone just wants to be part of it. It’s a carnival atmosphere all the way around. So even when you’re tired and struggling, that does carry you around, the Manchester spirit. There’s nothing more important for us to be proud of as a new emerging Manchester charity, and it’s such a great event as well.
The Manchester city council kindly gave us a number of spaces for free, which we could give out t our supporters and raise some money. We get a lot of support and that can get hidden, so it’s great to acknowledge that as well.

Michael Hannah: I guess in terms of the money that’s raised through the Manchester Run, where’s that going to go?

Adam Farricker: The money raised will allow us to deliver more extracurricular activities, things like residential visits to the Lake District out of Manchester. We’ve just become a Duke of Edinburgh licenced centre, so we can now deliver bronze awards, silver awards and gold awards. With COVID restrictions, we couldn’t compete for the bronze award because in the 4th stage you had to complete an expedition where you go out on a walk. And obviously at that point you weren’t allowed outdoors. About 39 people have completed the bronze award without the exhibition, so we want to be able to take them on a trip or walk when we can to complete it.

Our target for the Manchester Run is to raise £5,000 this year. That money will take 2 groups of young people outside of Manchester. For some it will be their first time.

Rianna Mistry: You don’t think about that.

Michael Hannah: I guess that’s good motivation for me though, I’ll be going for a run tonight! My experience with a charity so far is it’s all finance related. Whereas to actually be yes, we are raising money but to be part of it. Be part of the spirit and the atmosphere and the day, and probably raise awareness more than anything. And now knowing that money is targeted towards the people as you said, it’s a cool party and good to be part of it. As you said, the success stories, who knows where those 39 might be in the next two, three years. Sacred Journeys to

Rianna Mistry: Doing the 10k run, is there any other events that the youth zone is sponsoring or taking part in the rest of the year?

Adam Farricker: Fundraisers? Not that can think of off the top of my head. I know that all patrons are doing their fundraising events internally organisation like an organisation is doing the 3-peaks for example. If anyone has got an idea or a fundraising event, we can support you to raise those funds? If you want any of the young people to come down to your office and talk about their experiences first hand, we try to do that as much as possible.

Last year we had an annual Patrons dinner, a formal sit down dinner. That night is completely led by young people. The host of the MC for the night is a young person, the menu is designed by young people, the table service is young people, and the tours and the welcome team. At least once a month, we try and do a celebration for the local community. Any ideas anyone has got, we’re all ears.

Michael Hannah: And finally, describe HideOut Youth Zone in three words.

Adam Farricker: Inspiring, Empowering and Mancunian!

Michael Hannah: Fantastic.

Rianna Mistry: Thank you so much.

Adam Farricker: Thank you for coming down today and thanks to Godel for your continued support, it goes such a long way, we really do appreciate it.

Michael Hannah: Hopefully see you at the finish line!

[Outro] Thank you for listening to this instalment of The Godel POD. If you like what you hear and you’d like to know when we’re releasing more of these, please subscribe to the Godel page on Podbean and Spotify.