Roma community meetings and youth podcast among ‘Ipswich Pitch’ winners

The judges in the Dragon's Den-style Ipswich Pitch competition. Pictured from left, Richard Lister,

The judges in the Dragon's Den-style Ipswich Pitch competition. Pictured from left, Richard Lister, independent chairman of the Ipswich Opportunity Area, Katie Tyrrell, researcher at University of Suffolk, Holly Barker, volunteer for 4YP, and Lanai Collis-Phillips, #iwill ambassador. Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY - Credit: Archant

A twice-weekly meeting to support Ipswich’s Roma community and a podcast by children as young as 10 were among five big ideas awarded up to £3,000 to improve the lives of the town’s youngsters.

A mental health workshop for primary school children led by teenagers, as well as a new support group for mums facing violence also won a share of a £9,000 funding pot in the Dragon's Den-style 'Ipswich Pitch' contest.

The competition was set up by Ipswich Opportunity Area and youth group 4YP to give young people a voice, after research suggested many children and teenagers felt their views were not being listened to.

People aged between 10 and 25 were invited to submit ideas for projects which would advance the Opportunity Area's four main goals - improving life for babies and toddlers, boosting education standards, benefiting the community and raising people's ambitions.

The best were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges in an event held at the University of Suffolk's Waterfront Building.

They originally looked to award three projects £3,000 each - but were so impressed with the entries that three were given £2,000, while two entrants were awarded £3,000 on the condition they combine their efforts.

The winners were:

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? Opre Chavale Youth Awakening: Awarded £2,000 to set up twice-weekly meeting to improve education for young people in Ipswich's Roma community.

? Westbourne Academy's Mental Emotional Stable Societies (MESS) group: Awarded £2,000 to present mental health workshops to year-four and year-five pupils in the secondary school's feeder primaries.

? Women Against Sexual Exploitation and Violence Speak Up (WASSUP) Mommas: Awarded £2,000 to widen its activities and create new groups of young mums who help each other to raise their children free from fear.

? Gainsborough Community Library's Have you Heard?! Group and Future Female Society's Girls Where You At? Group: Awarded joint grant of £3,000. Have You Heard?! proposed a new podcast series by young people aged as young as 10, while Girls Where You At? suggested using radio, video, music and other mediums to explore girls' mental health.

Kimberly Feldewerth, Ipswich Opportunity Area programme coordinator for community and youth projects, said it was a 'fantastic and very inspiring day'

She said: 'The judges kept saying how inspiring all the projects were. The young people were really creative what they presented.

'The event really showed that young people in Ipswich are really eager to participate and play an active role. They don't want to have decisions taken for them but make sure they are heard.'

She added that the judges 'really want to highlight the amazing quality of the pitches and the high level of commitment by all those groups and young people involved'.