A SERIES of free activities to help support young people in York will begin next week.

Friends of Rowntree Park, York City Football Club and Door 84 Youth Centre will be in the park on Tuesday evenings between 5.30pm and 7pm from April 30, to host sports, arts and crafts and other events.

The scheme has been funded by Micklegate Ward, and Councillor Jonny Crawshaw said the idea was to have more on hand in the park to keep older children entertained as summer approaches, and to “positively tackle some of the antisocial behaviour we’ve experienced in the park and surrounding area”.

Cllr Crawshaw said: “Last summer, Rowntree Park got quite a lot of low-level but distressing antisocial behaviour and some of the work the Friends of Rowntree Park did in tidying up areas and the wildlife pond got, basically, trashed.

“It was distressing and upsetting for people and we have also had reports of groups of young people hanging around Millennium Bridge and a corner shop in Butcher Terrace.

"The general feedback seems to be it’s just bored teenagers - nothing malicious, just young people with nowhere to go and nothing to do.”

Cllr Crawshaw said the six-month scheme was a pilot, and would be run alongside work in the community which would see early intervention workers speaking to young people around the area in an outreach project “to get to know them a bit and find out what they are interested in and get them towards something they can do and be more positive about engaging with them”, rather than acting in response to antisocial behaviour.

He said: “We’re already talking about how we might make something longer-term going forward, but what we want to do is try it out and see how it goes. Certainly, we’re already thinking about what we might do once autumn comes with an indoor equivalent or something like that.

“We’re trying to prove there’s a demand and it gives a positive response we want, and if we can get that, we can roll that out going forward.

“There’s not enough for kids to do right across the city, really, no youth service anymore, so being able to provide that kind of thing is important.

"I’m really excited about it.”