24th November 2016
13 young people in took over Barking and Dagenham?s Safeguarding Children?s Board last Thursday. The activity was organised as part of the Children?s Commissioner?s Takeover Challenge 2016.
Takeover Challenge is a national event led by the Children’s Commissioner for England which puts children and young people into decision-making roles. Organisations and businesses benefit as they gain a fresh insight into their work by listening to children’s ideas and experience.
There were eight young people involved from the Barking and Dagenham Youth Forum and Young Carers Project and five from the Arc Theatre company.
One of the young people to take part in the Takeover Challenge was 16 year-old Pelumi Oyewo who is the Young Mayor of Barking and Dagenham and a student at Barking & Dagenham College. Pelumi said: “I learnt something new and met some fun and inspiring adults that I would not have met otherwise!"
It was a fantastic experience; there were 11 young people talking to councillors. They said that it is very beneficial for them to have young people acting and filling such positions. The councillors even suggested a repeating the activity twice a year, rather than just once a year!
Pelumi and her aide facilitated an interactive role play to the Board, involving various professionals such as police/teachers/NHS/social workers on the topic of how easily it is that young people could access drugs. They gave different coloured cards to allocate roles of friends/parents/teachers of the drug users and asked them for their views, pretending that it was a personal issue of a person that they knew.
The young people also discussed other issues, such as Social Media Technology and the risks to young people.
Pelumi will complete her position in the Chair in December, but will run until February when the new Young Mayor takes position and Pelumi will run for the position of Deputy Head of Forum.
Erik Stein, Group Manager - Integrated Youth Services, 14-19 Participation & Engagement, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham said: “Takeover Day is an excellent opportunity for senior leaders and managers to hear directly from young people, as well as an opportunity for young people to gain a better understanding of how the council and its partners work together. This year’s event was particularly good, with a number of key issues discussed openly and constructively.”
Takeover has grown year on year –Over 44,000 children took part nationally last year. Children and young people stepped into the shoes of hundreds of high profile figures including: MPs, mayors, TV presenters, teachers, chief executives, senior police officers and other professionals in all walks of life.