For one day, the young participants aged 11-18 stepped into decision-makers’ shoes at Croydon’s Town Hall, police station and other public and private sector organisations as part of Takeover Challenge.
The event allows young people a unique opportunity to have their say on key local issues, such as crime and policing, social services, housing, transport and many more. Meanwhile senior leaders benefit from some of the borough’s brightest minds and freshest thinking.
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning: “In Croydon we are incredibly proud to have more young people than any other London borough and it’s fantastic to see some of them taking on leading roles today for Takeover Challenge.
“This goes to the heart of Croydon’s Choose Your Future campaign, which is about encouraging young people to make positive choices, giving them opportunities and putting them at the heart of everything we do.”
Council chief executive Jo Negrini was replaced by Riddlesdown Collegiate pupil Charlotte Earl, 16, for one day. Charlotte, 16, said: “It’s great to get a deeper insight into how the council works and what’s going on in our borough. I think there is a level of awareness among young people about local government and politics, but it’s great to go behind the scenes, see the real operation and how everything works.”
Jo said: “Young people have a view on how services should be delivered and it’s really important that we hear their voice, particularly here in Croydon where we have more than 93,000 young people. Takeover is also about us opening up the council and being accessible. There are so many career opportunities for young people within local government, from social services to planning, housing and law, and this gives young people the chance to experience some of those.”
At Croydon police station, the borough’s Met officers welcomed new top brass. Six young people experienced the pressures of policing during two simulated exercises, one involving a knife offence and another public disorder.
Other organisations taking part in Croydon’s Takeover Challenge include HMRC, Reaching Higher and OnSide.
Last year Croydon’s first ever Takeover Challenge was branded a huge success by young people and local leaders alike. In feedback 94% of young respondents felt their voices were heard and 96% felt they had had the chance to make positive change in Croydon.