'Youth takeover' of council meeting to give views on key issues

Sandwell Council's SHAPE programme initiated a 'youth takeover' of the council's Cabinet and Leadership Team meeting.

Young people aged 13-22 from across the borough were given the opportunity to chair the meeting, giving their views and opinions on the issues affecting younger people living and working in Sandwell.

They represented a number of organisations, including the SHAPE Youth Forum and Q3 Academy Tipton, as well as Sandwell Council apprentices and work experience students from Bristnall Hall Academy. The national Takeover Challenge aims to foster local government that empowers children to strive for a brighter future within the community.

During the takeover, the young people discussed a number of issues with full Cabinet, as well as Chief Executive Shokat Lal and Assistant Chief Executive James McLaughlin. Among the topics raised were mental health issues for children, youth engagement in politics and increasing the apprenticeship offer across Sandwell.

The national Takeover Challenge was first launched in 2007 and is an exciting way to encourage organisations across England to get children and young people involved in adult roles, developing their skills for the future. Children benefit from having their views heard in a safe, fun environment and participating organisations profit from fresh and unique perspectives on important issues.

Brandon, aged 18 from Tipton, was one of young people who took part in the takeover event, which was held on 28 February. He said: “It was great to have the opportunity to share our views and opinions with the Leadership team. I really hope they will action some of the points we raised, and I look forward to taking part again in the future.”

Councillor Simon Hackett, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, added: “We are approaching the tenth year of our child’s voice initiative, SHAPE, where we involve children and young people to ensure they are heard and involved in decisions throughout the council.

“It was wonderful to see Sandwell’s young people embrace the opportunity to learn more about what the council does and what they can do to shape our decisions. Some very important points were raised by the participants – our future is in good hands!

“As part of our bid to become a UNICEF Child Friendly Borough, we are committed to creating more opportunities for our young people to share their opinions. Events like these are a vital part of this commitment.”

This is not the first time that Sandwell Council has taken part in this initiative, receiving a gold award from the Children’s Commissioner for its contribution in previous years. These takeovers were organised as part of Sandwell Council’s SHAPE programme.


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