Young people in Hartlepool took over the town to have their say on how things are run.
More than 100 children from primary, secondary schools and colleges took part in the Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Challenge yesterday.
The annual national event gives young people the opportunity to spend the day working with adults in key organisations.
It saw civic leaders hand over the reins so that young people could make their voices heard and gain first-hand experience of the working world, while the adults had the benefit of a fresh youthful perspective on the way things are done.
Young people shadowed adults as they went about their daily tasks at schools, in the Civic Centre and even the office of Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger.
The Mayor of Hartlepool, Coun Mary Fleet, council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, High Tunstall College of Science headteacher Mark Tilling and St Hild’s School deputy headteacher Grant Carswell were among those who opened their doors to welcome youngsters behind the scenes.
We very much welcome the opportunity to work with young people and seek their views, not just at annual events like this, but right throughout the year.Coun Chris Simmons, chair of the Council’s Children’s Services Policy Committee
Mr Coppinger’s role was taken over by five young people to help highlight the active role they have in the community.
Youngsters from St Teresa’s RC Primary, Manor Community Academy and Catcote Academy shadowed him for the day.
Youngsters at Barnard Grove Primary School, also got involved.
They were paid a visit by Coun Stephen Thomas, a Labour representative for the De Bruce ward, who worked with members of the school council to identify any issues in their areas and what could be done about it.
Years 3 and 4 teacher, Jane Porritt, said: “The morning was really beneficial to the children. They asked some really great questions and told him all about issues in their areas and what they thought the council could do to help.
“They also told him all the positive things about their areas and what they like.”
The youngsters also worked with teachers and in the school kitchen to see how the adults run things.
Those who took part in the event were invited to the Council Chamber at the Civic Centre in Victoria Road, to give their feedback on the session and take part in workshops on hate crime, bullying, involved in the Hartlepool Local Safeguarding Children Board and community safety issues.
Young people also had the opportunity to put questions to the Mayor, councillors and the town’s MP Iain Wright.
Coun Chris Simmons, chairman of the council’s Children’s Services Policy Committee, said: “We very much welcome the opportunity to work with young people and seek their views, not just at annual events like this, but right throughout the year.
“Young people bring a fresh and different perspective to tackling issues and improving services and there is much that we can – and do – learn from them.”