A FIGHT is under way to save a youth group that helps hundreds of Wearsiders every week.
Weekend Workout attracts up to 600 young people a week to its sessions at the Raich Carter Centre in Hendon.
But when regeneration scheme Back on the Map ended in March, so did vital funding it supplied to the youth project, which has been running for five years.
Despite the club being responsible for slashing antisocial behaviour in the Hendon area, and winning the backing of police, funds have not been secured to ensure it can continue.
Hopes for the future of Weekend Workout are now precariously resting on a £500,000 bid for Lottery funding.
Young people aged nine to 19 enjoy activities including swimming, beauty therapy and football for £1, each Friday and Saturday evening.
Police and councillors have joined the drive to save Weekend Workout, which also offers advice on healthy living and sexual health.
Northumbria Police Inspector Lee Butler, who covers Hendon, said: “One of the things residents tell us concerns them the most is young people hanging around on the streets while young people say there is nowhere to go.
“Projects like the Weekend Workout that provide activities for young people and gives them something to do rather than hanging around on the street or becoming involved in crime and antisocial behaviour play a huge role in making our communities even better and have our full support.”
Hendon councillor Michael Mordey and Councillor Ellen Ball, chair of the Raich Carter Centre, have vowed to help keep the project going.
Coun Mordey said: “It has a massive impact on the area on Friday and Saturday nights.
“The kids are safe; they are not just walking about the streets.”
Coun Ball added: “I have worked in Hendon for years and this is the best thing that has happened here.”
Raich Carter Centre manager Craig Jobson said: “All the antisocial behaviour has stopped on Fridays and Saturdays.
“The whole centre is just given over to the kids.
“I can’t think of any leisure centre that opens its doors to just kids for those two nights.”
Co-ordinator Stuart Graham, 34, from Grindon, has been with the project since it launched as part of an initiative by Sunderland City Council.
He said: “According to the police, crime rates have fallen and I think there’s more understanding between older and young people and more respect shown to the Centre.
“They know if they cause any hassle with the staff during the week, they won’t get in at the weekend.”
The funding bid will be submitted next week and the results will be announced six weeks later.