Community leaders and youth workers are joining forces to offer activities for youths following a spate of anti-social behaviour and vandalism in Innerleithen.

Unruly behaviour has been a hot topic online in recent weeks, with reports of youths spray painting the letters IYT on buildings, which is said to stand for Innerleithen Youth Team.

It is thought that the upsurge in vandalism is due to youngsters congregating outdoors because Government restrictions mean they can’t meet inside homes.

Tweeddale Youth Action, which up until recently held drop-in sessions for youngsters in the town, was forced to close because dry rot was discovered in the building.

Soon after, lockdown was imposed and the service was inevitably put on hold.

But the youth organisation is not able to re-open its Innerleithen branch in the old Co-operative building until the completion of the remedial works.

Keen to help resolve the issues of concern in the town and find a way to re-commence their services for youngsters, representatives from TYA joined this month’s community council meeting.

Chris Clarke, who is the Chair of the Board of Trustees for TYA, said: “There seems to be quite a bit of concern about youngsters and anti-social behaviour over the last month and a half.”

Ms Clarke said she had observed conversations on social media regarding young children in the town.

She added: “Although there were a lot of concerns expressed about youngsters there was a lot of negativity, which I suppose is not uncommon on social media, but it felt like it had the potential to get quite unpleasant, and there was no real sense about what we might wish to be doing about the behaviours.”

With the youth centre closed, Ms Clarke said TYA want to support the youngsters and called on community leaders and Scottish Borders Councillors to help.

“I just wanted to flag it with the council, both in terms of what else might be on offer or, what we feel as a community we should be trying to do to support these youngsters who are obviously getting up to no good, but, who are also probably feeling pretty fed-up with no offering of activities through the youth club.”

Although the Peebles based youth centre has re-opened, TYA manager Dave Hodson says the Innerleithen offering has been “substantially paired down”.

He said: “Things are moving forward and we’re hopefully we’ll have the club up and running by spring next year, but it’s left us with a temporary issue of no home in Innerleithen at the moment with all our youth work is been delivered from Peebles.

Despite doing some outreach work and speaking to youths out and about in the town, it was felt that it wasn’t a great use of TYA resources.

Colin Williams, who had his house vandalised with graffiti recently, said: “We had a lot of people get in contact about similar incidents, verbal abuse, kids hanging around the stand at Vale of Leithen making noise until really late hours.

“We’ve never had an incident in the 12 years of living here. It’s very much an issue which needs to be addressed and if we can support the youth club in any way that’s got to be a positive step.”

Councillor Shona Haslam said she did not excuse the behaviours of youngsters but said it is an “incredibly difficult time” for them.

She said: “It’s a tiny minority of young people that are misbehaving, but obviously they are not being allowed in each other’s houses its causing huge issues and they are hanging around in groups outside more than they would normally. There will inevitably be some issues and I think we have to be quite understanding of that as well.”

Councillor Haslam added that SBC Estates might be able to find a temporary venue for the youth club, possibly St Ronan’s Community Centre or the Memorial Hall.

Innerleithen Church of Scotland was also mooted as a venue.

Community councillor Jackie Couchman said: “They are in the process appointing a new minister who I’m sure will want to engage with the local youth services.”

Chairman of Innerleithen Community Trust Ross McGinn added: “When the Church of Scotland got their funding for renovating the building, one of the conditions was that it was available for community use so I’m pretty sure an approach to them would be appropriate.”