Leeds City Council has been awarded a prestigious gold standard from the Children’s Commissioner for its work to involve children and young people in ‘Takeover’ activities. Part of the city’s ambition to become a child friendly city and give children a voice.
The Children’s Commissioner’s Up for the Challenge commendation scheme recognises organisations’ participation in the annual national Takeover Challenge and their contribution to children’s engagement.
This year Leeds has been awarded the gold standard recognising the level of commitment and the number of children and young people who took part in last year’s events.
Last year the range of takeover opportunities carried out in Leeds was extensive. Some children became head teachers for the day whilst others became teachers and took over other school based roles. There were also many opportunities for children and young people throughout Leeds City Council, with some taking over committee and board meetings, as well as teams from all services. A group of children also took over parts of the NHS and other health services and some of our youth parliament members ‘took over’ MP roles for the day in Westminster.
There were also specific opportunities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities as well young people who are looked after by the council to take over strategic board meetings and working groups relevant to them.
Leeds has taken part in ‘Takeover’ since 2007 and have held a ‘takeover month’ for the past three years which allows teams, services, organisations and schools the full month of November to offer takeover opportunities for young people. During November 2015 at least 10 schools and 26 services took part in Takeover Month, with over 760 young people having the chance to take part. Child friendly Leeds ambassadors in partner organisations and services supported and led many takeover day activities.
The aim of the takeover challenge, which is led nationally by the Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield, is to put children and young people in decision-making positions and encourage organisations and businesses to listen to their views. The children gain an insight into the adult world and organisations benefit from a fresh perspective about their work.
The team within Leeds City Council which coordinates the Leeds Takeover Month, the Voice and Influence team, hold information sessions for anyone wanting to take part in the takeover challenge and provide them with guidance and support on the best way to deliver their takeover to ensure the young people get the most out of their time with the organisation.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, executive member responsible for children and families said:
“It is fantastic that the hard work of the Voice and Influence Team has been recognised by the children’s commissioner. Takeover Month is a great opportunity for children and young people to learn more about the city, different careers and what life is like outside of school.
“Part of our ambition to be a child friendly city means we want to offer opportunities to children to influence decision making, to share their views and have their opinions listened to, and getting involved in Takeover Month is a great way to do this.
“Takeover Month also allows us to meet children outside of their usual environment and get a real insight into their thoughts and opinions of what we do and, more importantly, what we can do better.”