New youth centre to open in honour of murdered Croydon teenager

Zaian Aimable-Lina, 15, who died following an attack in Ashburton Park, Croydon.
Pic: The Metropolitan Police.

A new youth centre named after a teenage boy stabbed to death in Croydon last month is to be created in Ashburton Park, where he was killed.

Oasis Charitable Trust will convert Ashburton Lodge in Addiscombe East into The Zaian Centre after receiving permission from Croydon Council last week.

Zaian Aimable-Lina, a 15-year-old student of Oasis Academy Shirley Park, was stabbed in the heart in Ashburton Park on December 30.

A 15-year-old suspect for the incident was arrested on January 1, and appeared at the Old Bailey on January 6. The boy has since been remanded into a youth detention centre before a provisional trial date is set on March 24.

Oasis are a trust focused on fighting inequality and creating opportunities for the residents of local communities. Oasis Academy Learning was established in 2004, allowing the charity to run primary and secondary schools in such areas, including Oasis Academy Shirley Park.

The proposal for the youth centre was made by Steve Chalke, a Baptist minister and founder of Oasis, in conversation with Croydon Council at a vigil held for the teenager in the park on January 6.

Chalke told Eastlondonlines: “They could see the building stood there. I said to imagine if this building had been lit up and was alive as a youth centre. The likelihood is that this boy wouldn’t have died. They could see that, you can’t guarantee it of course. That’s where the idea of turning the empty lodge into a youth centre at last was born.”

Ashburton Lodge. Pic: Savills plc

Ashburton Lodge is a former park keeper’s lodge house located within Ashburton Park. The building was previously scheduled to be listed at an auction for £320,000 next month to raise funds for Croydon Council. The lodge will now be given to Oasis on a peppercorn lease from the council for the project.

The multi-bedroom main building of the lodge, as well as the derelict annexe, will be fully converted into The Zaian Centre. Chalke has stated the opportunity to use the detached house as a music studio for young people in the area, as well as having space for games in the surrounding grounds.

Oasis had earlier wanted to convert the Lodge into a youth centre shortly after the trust took over Ashburton Community School, renaming it Oasis Academy Shirley Park.

Chalke described the development occurring due to a teenager’s death as a “tragedy” but praised the council for their swift handling of the proposal: “This brings hope. Out of Zaian’s death, it has brought something redemptive.”

“This is about how we work with young people to keep them in mainstream education, keep them from falling through the cracks in care. It’s about how we work with the most vulnerable young people in our society of whom there are many, especially post Covid-19, who need support and how we help other young people to thrive.”

Chalke said that the centre will also benefit young people in Addiscombe outside of the school run by the trust.

“When you work with young people you don’t ask, ‘What’s wrong with you?’, but rather, ‘What’s happened to you?’. What happens is you’re listening and working with them.”

Stuart King, Deputy Leader of Croydon Council, said in a statement sent to ELL: “We are exploring the use of Ashburton Lodge in this way because we believe that by working with Oasis, as well as creating a huge opportunity for young people in the local community, we can also create a symbol to all that even in his death Zaian, this remarkable young man, is making a difference.”

“By working together, we have an opportunity to build on our commitment to protect our most vulnerable children and teenagers by keeping them from harm, while also creating more opportunities for all young people to thrive and flourish.”

The family of Aimable-Lina have started a GoFundMe campaign to contribute to the memory of the student. Olivia Aimable-Lina, a family member, said on behalf of the family: “We are all in pain at this loss but know he will live on in all of our minds and hearts, we all have a lot to do to make him proud, we know he’ll be watching. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.”

Oasis have also started a Crowdfunder campaign to raise funds for the new team to be based at the centre and the conversion of the two buildings on the site. The trust has already raised £8000 for the project and plan for a variety of future fundraising events to aid the campaign.

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