Young people take over the town hall

Published: Thursday 7th December 17

Young people took over the jobs of senior Wandsworth Council decision makers during the recent Takeover Challenge.

The national event is organised by the Children’s Commissioner for England and for the last six years has been run locally by the Wandsworth Youth Council.  Forty-six young people took over the jobs of senior officers in children’s services, the youth service, communications, design services, lifelong learning and other council departments. Senior figures from Wandsworth Police, the Clinical Commissioning Group, the child mental health service CAMHS and Healthwatch also took part.

The young decision-makers chaired meetings, helped design a new nursery, managed a stall at the London Business Show, made budgeting decisions and held staff one-to-ones. Some of the young people attended a meeting at Stamford Bridge and were able to watch Chelsea FC train.

Ninety-three per cent of the youngsters who took part said they would like to do it again and one young person said they had learnt “that my opinions matter and my voice can be important.” Another said they enjoyed “chairing a meeting and being able to influence the conversation.”

The job of the council’s head of communications was taken over by Norbert Szczyglowski who attends Ernest Bevin College. He interviewed the leader of the council Ravi Govindia for Headstart Magazine and quizzed him about the council’s commitment to improving air quality and the regeneration of Nine Elms.

Cllr Govindia said: “It was a pleasure to meet Norbert and enjoy a very stimulating conversation. Takeover Challenge gives young people a chance to experience what it’s like to work for Wandsworth, and give us a fresh perspective and new ideas.”

The Wandsworth event was co-ordinated by The Participation People, who are commissioned by the council to deliver its Youth Participation Service, and the Wandsworth Youth Council, which gives local young people a voice in decision making. Find out more at or follow @WBCYouthCouncil on twitter .

See more pictures from the day on Flickr.

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