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Diverse cafe tops Youth in Local Govt awards

Christchurch’s Diverse cafe tops Youth in Local Govt awards

Diverse, a Christchurch City Council-supported café run for and by young people in Linwood, is the supreme award winner at this year’s Youth in Local Government conference.

The conference, now under way at the University of Otago in Dunedin, is held every second year. Its aim is to encourage greater involvement of young people in their local communities. The Christchurch café was a finalist in all four awards categories. It won the Youth Participation category and was also picked from the four winners as the supreme Sprit of Youth Pu Maia Rangatahi award.

Diverse, opposite Eastgate Mall at 5 Buckleys Road, opened in April 2003. It was an idea developed by young people in the area after research for the Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board suggested the community was concerned about its younger members.

Today, Diverse is a safe place to go with food and drink at affordable prices. It gives people work and organisational experience, and has space to display artwork and to perform. In the last year the committee has organised classes in things like creative writing and Latin dancing. Also based at the venue is youth worker Tania Smith (a position supported by the community board and 198 Youth Health Centre).

From the beginning, decisions about Diverse have been made and put into practice by the young people it aims to attract and support. The Youth Initiatives Trust was formed as the ownership body and a committee of 14 to 20-year-olds manages the venture.

“It’s an excellent scheme,” says Paul Findlay, a trust member who started on the management committee. ”It’s because everything's come from young people. The committee gets to make the decisions and that's quite unique.”

Shailer Hart, the City Council’s children and youth advocacy team leader, says this is the first year the Youth in Local Government conference has had the awards. “The idea in setting them up was to celebrate successful youth participation. It’s great that the Linwood café’s won the inaugural award because it really is something worked out by young people and basically put together and managed by them with financial support from the Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board.”

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