HUNDREDS of people have signed a petition against the closure of a young people’s centre in York.

The 29 Castlegate centre provides various services for 16 to 25-year-olds, but faces being closed by City of York Council, which funds it. Services would move to the council’s West Offices in Station Rise under new plans.

The holistic and counselling approach would be replaced with an education, employment and training-focused service for 16 to 19-year-olds, but an online petition urging the council to withdraw the plans has attracted more than 350 signatures.

The petition was started by Kate Moores. She wrote on the website: “The council argues that ‘For those receiving the service there is likely to be no impact’…We disagree strongly. Castlegate and its predecessor, The Youth Enquiry Service, have worked with thousands and thousands of young people since the 1980s.

“The service provides a holistic source of advice, counselling, and support. Crucially, this is often for people unable or unwilling to go into spaces more closely identified with ‘government’, ‘council’, ‘adult’ advice centres, ‘children’s services’ or schools.”

The petition calls for a review of the decision and consultation with young people who use the service, to properly consider how it can be maintained.

One former Castlegate user, who asked to be quoted only as Lara, said: “I am absolutely devastated at the proposals to close the service. Castlegate provides a safe haven for young people – the environment absolutely matters, as does the knowledge and expertise of the staff who go above and beyond to keep young people at the centre of their work and to make the service accessible and safe.

“I know that without the care and support of the staff at Castlegate my life would have turned out very differently. Whilst I appreciate that money is tight across the board, to lose the centre and/or the staff would be an absolute disservice to, and have a massive impact on, the young people of York.”

Cllr Janet Looker, cabinet member for young people, said: “I know how valuable the service is, I really do.

“We don’t get funded by anyone to do the counselling and at the end of the day, that is a problem, as money is appallingly tight and we have done it with a lot of good will and hope but we are going to have to look at the possibility of looking at some partnership contributions if we are going to continue.”

A decision is due at tomorrow afternoon’s council cabinet meeting.