A COMMUNITY group has been praised by police after an expansion of its services led to a fall in anti-social behaviour.
Since the appointment of five trainee youth workers at the Northumberland YMCA in Ashington in September, the town has seen an 11 per cent drop in youth disorder.
The centre was able to employ the five trainees thanks to funding from the Future Jobs Fund and support from Positive Futures, enabling it to open four nights a week as a social hub for teenagers.
In the space of five months, more than 200 young people have visited the centre in North View, and it now attracts between 40 and 50 teenagers a night, giving them somewhere to socialise indoors rather than hanging around on the streets.
Ashington Neighbourhood Inspector Jackie Coleman has written to YMCA chief executive Rob Cox to praise the service.
In the year to September, police figures show there were 793 incidents of youth disorder in the Hirst and surrounding areas of Ashington.
However, since the YMCA expanded its service in September, that figure has fallen by 11 per cent.
Insp Coleman said: “I am very happy that the YMCA has been able to expand its services, giving the young people of Ashington somewhere to go to spend their time meaningfully.
“This is proof that the vast majority of young people are not out to cause trouble, but just want something to fill their time.
“The activities that the YMCA has provided have had a positive effect on levels of anti-social behaviour across the sector.
“The Ashington neighbourhood policing team has also been able to engage with teenagers who use the YMCA and has established good relationships.
“We are very grateful for the YMCA’s help in making such reductions in the level of anti-social behaviour possible.
“We would like to continue with our special relationship over the next 12 months.”
The Future Jobs Fund programme is targeted at helping young people unemployed for longer than six months into temporary work, primarily in the voluntary, community and public sectors.
It aims to create 3,450 temporary jobs by March to give jobseekers aged 18 to 24 the chance to gain work experience and additional skills to add to their CV.
Cramlington South East county councillor Tom Brechany added: “Local employers have responded in the right way to the Future Jobs Fund and created over 200 new temporary jobs.
“They have given young people with little work experience a chance to prove themselves in the workplace.
“The YMCA expansion is a perfect example of the positive contribution young people can make in our communities if they are given a chance.”