Harwich: Teenagers launch first hoodie festival

HOODIE-WEARING youngsters are holding a festival to show a community that their choice of fashion does not mean they are troublemakers.

The first-ever Harwich Hoodie Festival is being held on Saturday, February 26 in the Park Pavilion with hopes to change the image of young people.

Organised by Harwich Inspired Youth Action (HIYA), the group has become well known in the community for entertaining elderly people at the Dovercourt Lunch Club and meeting dignitaries such as the High Sheriff of Essex and the Mayor and Mayoress of Harwich.

Sixteen-year-old HIYA chair Fern Lovett hopes the Harwich Hoodie Festival will bring the whole community together.

“Our group comes from all different backgrounds,” she said. “By holding festivals we show people that all young people are not bad. It’s free and there will be live music. We want to break the barriers between young and old.”

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The festival will include bingo, live bands, dancing, stalls, fire engines and community police.

One of the highlights will be getting well-known dignitaries and respected people to dress up in a hoodie, and then to reveal their faces.

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Twenty-year-old HIYA co-ordinator Libby Miller said: “The main problems facing young people around Harwich are sexual health, homelessness, bullying and alcohol.

“So HIYA provides a brilliant way to help build their confidence and knock down any barriers.”

The group has now been nominated for the Essex Police Young People of the Year awards YOPEY, and is in the running for �2,000 of cash prizes for young people who are positive role models.

Essex Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said: “The YOPEYs give Essex Police the opportunity to praise some of the fantastic young people we have living in our county.”

To nominate inspirational young people aged 10 to 25 for the Essex YOPEYs, logon to www.yopey.org

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