Leagrave Youth Work Action Group (LYWAG)
Leagrave Youth Work Action Group began in 2004. St Luke's church began a large survey of action groups tasked with examining all aspects of life and activities within the parish of Leagrave . It became very clear that there was a need for greater focus on providing activities for young people in the area. A Youth Fair was held in St Luke's Church Hall bringing together various youth organisations and the community. As part of the day a rock band from Luton's twin town in Berlin performed. Many of the young people spoke about how because of their age they never got to see live music and if they were aspiring musicians they could never perform live as they were too young to perform in pubs and bars. As a result LYWAG began hosting the Rock Nights.
The rock nights became one of most successful activities for young people with young people travelling from all over Luton and other parts of Bedfordshire to attend. The Rock Nights sold out for years with sometimes as may as 200 young people willing to queue and wait for others to leave so they could attend. . Held every term and half term the rock nights gave four bands the chance to perform on a proper stage with lights infront of an audience of 170 young people. It soon became an integral and important part of the music scene. Many of the regions young bands played their first gig at the event allowing them to hone their skills in front of a live audience. Keeping the entry fee at only two pounds the event was accessible to the whole community. The security was partly provided by the police cadets, helping break down perceived barriers between young people and the police. In 2005 Leagrave Youth Work Action Group ( LYWAG) began a registered charity under the patronage of St Luke's Church.
In 2005 LYWAG held its first Youth Festival. The aim was to create a free music event that celebrated the talents of young people whilst introducing them to charities and activities available to them. The Luton Youth Festival has taken place every year since then, usually on the first Saturday in July. Since its inception over a thousand young people have performed. The festival takes over the grounds and building of St Luke's Church in Leagrave. The festival features performers from a variety of cultures and has never charged for any inflatables.
After a very successful 5 years delivering the Rock Nights, finished. The success of the nights had encourage many for profit promoters to put on gigs for the under 18's and as music tastes also change it was time for LYWAG to evolve to meet the needs of young people within the community. In 2005 we began Page Master's a reading club for teenagers run in partnership with Luton Culture. The group enabled teenagers to share and develop their love of books.
LYWAG launched under 18's disco to help provide young people a place to go and enjoy a club environment and socialise with their friends in a safe environment. The event trialled at a number of locations including St Luke’s Church Hall and Hockwell Ring Community Centre until successfully settling in its current home, Leagrave Methodist Hall where it attracts around 50 young people each time.
Since it began there has been many changes in the town and voluntary sector, LYWAG has always sought to be community led, and evolve to meet the changing needs of young people whilst also offering them stability. The charity is run entirely by volunteers, which has helped ensure it offers value for money and prides itself on delivering activities at the lowest possible cost to ensure they are accessible to all. In 2015 it celebrates its tenth year having seen many young people grown up attending its activities, some of who now volunteer helping ensure LYWAG remains relevant and open to the needs of each new generation.
Central to LYWAG's ethos has always been effective partnership work. As part of the tenth year it further plans to help facilitate joint working and raise funds for organisations serving the needs of young people in the area.