VOLUNTEERS at Walcot Charity Shop and Community Library are inviting youths in the area to meet them in a bid to settle concerns about anti-social behaviour.

Following a number of assaults and robberies in Sussex Square since the summer, the manager of the community hub has left and volunteers were forced to consider the centre’s future.

They decided at a meeting to keep going, reducing from five to three the number of days the centre will open every week.

The charity shop, which oversees the library, will now open between 9.30am and 1pm on Monday, Friday and Saturday.

However, the library will operate five days a week, with Swindon Council staff opening the facility on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Now, Peter Mallinson, the chairman of the group which runs the hub, is preparing to meet local youths in a bid to improve relationships and resolve any problems.

He said: “There have been long-running problems in the area, it is not something new, but I would like to propose a way forward.

“The charity shop would like to invite the youths to come over and meet us. We will provide them with hot drinks and biscuits and a place to stay in where it is warm. I will personally go out in the square and give the invitation to them.

“With goodwill on both sides we may be able to put all this behind us.”

Peter hopes to get together with youngsters after 10am on Saturday and that Walcot’s reputation can be improved and the shop continue to help local people.

“I have tried over about eight years now to help local people through raising money in the charity shop and helping local people with it.

“We have given many thousands of pounds over this period and if all goes well we will continue to do so.

“We currently have a very good business that has been awarded two Pride of Swindon awards in recent years for work in the community.”

Following the problems in 2014 a dispersal order was implemented in the area in July, giving police officers the powers to move on anyone causing trouble and arrest them if they failed to comply.

Wiltshire Police has reassured the charity shop and residents that patrols will increase in Sussex Square to deal with the problems.

Inspector Charlie Ducker, of east sector, said: “Those few who are responsible for intimidating and anti-social behaviour need not be complacent that our presence will quickly tire.

“I remain resolute that Walcot will be well served by the statutory partners to address crime and disorder, and that the majority of law-abiding members of the community will regain their self-confidence to move freely and safely.”

Anyone wishing to volunteer at Walcot Charity Shop and Community Library is asked to visit it or call 01793 639076.