Lowbiza venture leaves lasting legacy for youngsters in Waveney

IT gave thousands of teenagers the chance to take to the dancefloor in a safe nightclub surrounding.

But although there was some sadness last week as a popular youth venture reached its end, the legacy of Lowbiza will live on after the money it raised was presented to organisations across Waveney.

The hugely-popular alcohol, drug and smoke-free dance event for 13 to 17-year-olds was run for 10 years in Lowestoft by a partnership comprising Waveney District Council, V-Involved, Suffolk police, Connexions, Suffolk County Council Youth Service and Norcas Youth Service.

However, it has been wound up after failing to find a regular venue.

Last Friday, �7,600 was handed over to 10 youth organisations at Lowestoft Town Hall.

The money was raised by Lowbiza at up to four themed dance events – including Valentines, Summer Bash, Halloween and Christmas – which were held annually at nightspots including Hanks (now Hush Hush), The Edge, the Wherry Hotel and Carlton Manor.

As well as creating an enjoyable, safe environment, the events gave young people access to information and support on a range of issues including relationships, drugs, alcohol, personal safety and sexual health.

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A Waveney District Council spokesman said: 'While no more Lowbiza events are planned for the future, the huge success of past events has enabled the Lowbiza Partnership to offer voluntary, statutory and community youth organisations working with 13 to 17-year-olds in Waveney, the opportunity to apply for a grant of up to �1000 to support their youth project.'

Janet Holmes, who was one of the Lowbiza's main organisers while she was working with Norcas and now with The Matthew Project, said the event's success was down to it being 'ahead of its time'.

'It was run by local people for youngsters and partnership working was at the heart of it,' she said.

'Today is a happy occasion tinged with sadness. I'm happy young people and groups will be benefiting but sad to see Lowbiza go as it was so successful.'

Cheques were presented to: Jo Bidmead and Kay Westgate from Shine; Shaun Swan and Mark Gamble from Waveney Youth Football Club; Dani Doughty and two students from Bungay High School; Hajnal Simon from Catch 22; Andy Roberts and Ian Castro from Iceni Judo Club; Ryan Holt, representing the B&B Theatre company; Claire Meade from The Yard Project; Andrew Dorning from Dreamworx; Paul Fitzgerald from I Made This and Eric Sewell from Apollo Youth Club.

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