BOYS deemed to be at risk of engaging in antisocial behaviour near Barnsley town centre and its surrounding areas will be targeted as part of a successful project which aims to get youngsters off the streets.

The Central Area Council is in the third year of a £390,000 agreement with Barnsley YMCA, which was commissioned to fund out-of-school activities for eight to 14-year-olds.

However at a meeting at Barnsley Town Hall called for the agreement to be amended due to the low proportion of boys using the service.

It was revealed that females accounted for 62 per cent of attendees at the successful sessions, with boys’ figures standing at 38 per cent.

A total of 44 new youngsters joined the service in the last quarter, but area council manager Carol Brady said boys would be targeted in the coming months to increase their figures.

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Coun John Clarke, who represents the Worsbrough ward, said: “Low-level antisocial behaviour issues tend to involve boys in this age bracket, not girls, so we should be doing more to get them into the scheme as it’s been very positive.”

It comes after a teenage gang subjected a residential area near the town centre to a ‘reign of terror’ throughout last year, which saw the police and council work together to use civil injunctions to effectively ban perpetrators from areas such as Canal Street, off Old Mill Lane.

According to a council report, 124 after-school sessions were put on in the last quarter, which included two sessions per week in each of the area council’s wards including Central, Kingstone, Stairfoot, Worsbrough and Dodworth.

A total of 1,524 youngsters attended, with the eight to 11-year-old bracket accounting for 61 per cent, while 12 to 14-year-olds made up 39 per cent.

Ms Brady said the contract with YMCA is in place until March 2020.

“The programme of activities remains varied and has been developed in response with consultation with the participants,” she said. “These are developed to support the achievements of positive outcomes for young people and contribute towards building emotional resilience and wellbeing.

“A total of 124 sessions have been delivered in the last quarter, with 44 new children attending. The project continues to support those who have low self-esteem, lack confidence, are vulnerable and those who have been bullied.

“Participants have been involved in identifying goals and aspirations. Data shows a 38.6 per cent increase in general wellbeing.”