First anti-racism festival

PREPARATIONS are underway today for Ipswich's first festival to fight racism and challenge prejudice.The Respect festival is already a thriving annual London festival, started in memory of victims such as Stephen Lawrence, and this year it is coming to Ipswich too.

PREPARATIONS are underway today for Ipswich's first festival to fight racism and challenge prejudice.

The Respect festival is already a thriving annual London festival, started in memory of victims such as Stephen Lawrence, and this year it is coming to Ipswich too.

Pam Littlejohn, co-ordinator of the Waterfront Community Centre, has been attending the London festival for years and decided it was time to educate the people in Ipswich.

She said: "I passionately believe in festivals like the Respect festival that bring people together.

"The more people of different backgrounds get together the easier it is for all of us to move forward. The importance of the whole day is for it to be fun as well as informative."

The Ipswich town mayor will open the festival, at 12pm, on June 19, at the Town Hall.

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The event will run until 11pm and afternoon events include talks from guest speakers, DJ workshops, art and music workshops, puppet shows, story telling and traditional gypsy crafts.

The evening session starts at 7pm and will have bands playing such as the Punjabi Hit Squad, Supa Supreme, Kwaitology and DJ Fusion.

The festival hopes to raise awareness of hate crime and encourage reporting of racist, homophobic crime and domestic violence.

It has been backed by both the Ipswich Borough Council and the Suffolk County Council.

Mrs Littlejohn, said: "Everyone who comes to the Waterfront Community Centre has been helping to organise the event.

"The youngsters who come here have been making banners for the day. They really seem to understand the message we are trying to put across. They all come from different backgrounds and it is an achievement in itself to see them working together on a project like this."

She hopes the festival is a big hit and can become an annual event for Ipswich.

She added: "Next year I would like to see it become a weekend event held in one of the larger parks in Ipswich."

Do you have any news for the Ipswich town centre area? If so contact Lisa Woollard at 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or call 01473 324801 or e-mail lisa.woollard@eveningstar.co.uk.

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