Young people in Croydon stepped into the shoes of the borough’s decision-makers on Friday, as they took part in the council’s Takeover Challenge.
Sixty-eight young people led focus groups and took part in several key local organisations like the police and library. The children also took over the departments of health, transportation and housing.
Councillor Alisa Flemming, responsible for young people and education, told to East London Lines: “The aim was to create a spirit of boldness amongst ages from 11 to 18.”
The day started with young people taking responsibility for the organisations that participated in the event. They worked on a police simulation involving a missing person and participated in social work in the Croydon’s library and healthcare institutions.
Flemming added that the Council’s youth engagement team visited various secondary schools across the borough in order to let the children know about the initiative.
Afterwards, the children had a taste of what it is like to be one of Croydon’s most senior politicians for the day.
Israel Francis, 18, who was elected as the young mayor of Lewisham five times and took part in the event, said: “As a young mayor they give me a budget of £25,000. You must use it wisely for the community and you get a lot of power to do that.”
He added: “It was quite interesting today to represent the chief director who works on strategic planning and transport because I have learned new things I did not know about.”
Koffy Fimborn, 17, took part in the focus group of Croydon Drop In, an organisation which offers support, mentoring and counselling to young people.
Fimborn spent the day there, saying he had a “fantastic” time and that he would love to come back to do more work with them on a voluntary basis in order to gain experience and insight into the needs of young people in the borough.
He told ELL: “It was a great opportunity to offer help to those young people”.
Jennifer Rodriguez, 13, who participated in the housing and development focus group said: “I learnt about what the council does in the planning for the city and all missions they have to do, I felt like it seems really interesting as a job to participate in taking decision and making plans for housing.”
Brayan Clayan, 14, who participated in the library group, said that the day gave him the chance to help people to get things done quicker.
The council will take into consideration the proposals made by the young people in social issues like crime and housing.