Our History

The History of The Paradise Zone Youth Centre

When I asked Dean Straw (the original Youth Worker of The Paradise Zone Youth Centre) to provide a history of the club for this website, this is the history he gave me:

We did stuff. We did more stuff. Stuff is still being done.

Dean managed quite eloquently to put into words the whole point of The Paradise Zone Youth Centre in that understated way of his. When he put the club together he did what was needed to be done and more and we are continuing to do that.

Below is a rough timeline which expands somewhat on our history but won’t have the real markers in time when someone discovers they are good at something and decide to go to university and or when someone makes a friend that when they grow up they marry or when someone who used to come to club comes to the door with their child to start at club. No this is the stuff that we did and is still being done and will continue to be stuff we do. And this is some of the other ‘history’ with dates and other stuff.


How Some Stuff Happened – 20 years in pictures

From before the official opening of The Paradise Zone Youth Centre to how it looks today. From the old musty unused youth hall to two floors of purpose built/renovated youth centre. Changing with the times but keeping the same values throughout.



1993 June – No youth provision at The oldest Salvation Army Corp in the world. Officers Stewart Grinstead, a former Youth Work professional and Heather Grinstead a qualified and experienced Teacher start junior clubs and have a vision for Project Paradise
1994 Jan 23rd Dean Straw moves from a small village in Derbyshire to arrives in London, to live in an attic sleeping on an airbed and raise funds, design and plan the Paradise Zone Youth Centre as a volunteer 9 months full time and then become a paid Youth Worker.
1994 July 1st Dean is officially employed as Youth Worker

The Paradise Zone Youth Centre opens its doors in the Youth Hall of the oldest surviving Salvation Army Corps in the world (with Dean Straw (Youth Worker) & Stewart & Heather Grinstead (C/Os).



1st weekend in September first refurbishment of club. Sue Mallia spends her 18th Birthday painting club and knocking hatch hole through


Official opening of the Paradise Zone
1995 20-22 Feb Residential to Derbyshire, Notts Museum & Sherwood Forest, Clowne SA & YC & Peak District & Swimming

Fishing trip to Whitby 3 days

Dean begins his BA in YW at YMCA

1996 July 4th as part of Sexism theme Roz runs session on Sexism in the Media

Dec 18th Stars in Your Eyes Christmas Disco Jane wins as Alanis Morisette

1997 Feasibility Study for Extension and Refurbishment of Centre

Easter Video project

 1997 Summer – 12 young people got to Cairngorms in Aviemore canoeing, climbing, skiing, quad biking
Emma Ali starts her DofE volunteering
1998 Dean qualifies with BA in YW
2001 April – July Roz & Richard run club while Dean has and recovers from shoulder operation.

11th to 19th August – Adventure Week in Villeneuve, Northern Italy. We were camping, kayaking, canoeing, gorge walking, abseiling, archery, climbing, white-water rafting and other outdoor activities.

2002 November 8-10 Hindleap Warren
2003 March 4th Roz employed for 1 session a week as Creative Arts Worker
2003 27th -30th May Young Leader expedition on Pembrokshire Coastal Path
2004 17-25 Jan Ski trip to La Clusaz France
2004 Rome trip
HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh visits club (16th March)
Dean leaves the centre in the hands of Roz & Richard, after 10 years.

Sept 6th Roz employed as Youth Worker

2005 May 3rd to May 30th 2008 Emma is emplyed as Youth Worker and leaves to be a primary school teacher.
2005 Make Poverty History March in Edinburgh
2007 Trip to Nairobi Kenya with volunteering and peer-education in first aid at Children’s Home and running funday in Mitumba Slum and Safari in Aboseli Park
2008 Jon is employed as youth worker
201?? India Residential ( Mumbai & Hampi) + providing donations of equipment & volunteering at children’s centre
2014 Jon returns with a group to Hindleap Warren, a place he remembers when he was their age.


⊗ what we do   ⊗ context

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