Young people take over town hall

Published: Thursday 26th November 15

Young people were shown behind the scenes at Wandsworth Council last week, shadowing senior decision makers during Takeover Challenge.

Around 40 teenagers took over from councillors, department heads, NHS bosses, the Wandsworth Police Borough Commander and others on November 20, including the council’s education and young people spokesman, Cllr Kathy Tracey, and senior figures in policy and communication, community safety, economic development, education, procurement, 4Children, which runs the council’s youth service, social services, public health and housing.

The young people were taken out on visits and to meetings – in some cases chairing them. In return the person they were shadowing was encouraged to take the opportunity to get advice on how to engage with young people and get their input into how local services are provided.Takeover Day is a national annual event organised by the Children’s Commissioner for England which gives young people the chance to work with adults for the day and be involved in decision making. This year it has increased in scope and will now encourage organisations to involve young people all year.

Anne Longfield, Children's Commissioner for England said:

“Takeover gives young people a chance to experience the world of work while also giving the organisations the chance to benefit from the fresh perspective that the children bring.”

One of the students, 17-year-old Isaiah Springer, shadowed members of the communications team. He toured Nine Elms and interviewed the leader of the council, Ravi Govindia, about his vision for the area.  He has written an article, which can be read in full in the next edition of Headstart magazine.

Cllr Govindia said: “It was really good to meet Isaiah and give him an interview about the regeneration of Nine Elms for his magazine article. Takeover Challenge is always one of the highlights of year, because it gives us the chance to see what we do every day through a fresh pair of eyes. It also gives our young people valuable insight and contacts that they can use in the future. ”

Other tasks carried out by the young people including writing reports for the council’s public health department, developing marketing strategies for the youth service, running a housing inspection, speaking at a conference at the US embassy and reviewing health care plans for young people in care.

The young person shadowing Cllr Tracey was taken to inspect the new Go Ape facility at Battersea Park – due to open next month.

The Wandsworth event was coordinated by the Wandsworth Youth Council, which gives local young people a voice in decision making, supported by 4Children, which is commissioned by the council to run the youth service. Find out more at

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