The Children’s Commissioner for England has completed a visit of County Durham to recognise and celebrate the work of the Children and Families Partnership (CFP).

The CFP has been presented with a Gold Award in recognition of its outstanding work during the 2016 ‘Takeover Challenge’.

The Children and Families Partnership has representation from Durham County Council, the voluntary sector, police, health, schools and colleges, with a strategic responsibility for delivering better outcomes for children, young people and their families in County Durham.

The Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Challenge takes place in November each year, and sees organisations across England opening their doors to children and young people to take over adult roles.

It puts children and young people in decision-making positions and encourages organisations and businesses to hear their views.

The project gives children and young people the opportunity to gain an insight into the adult world, and organisations benefit from a fresh perspective about their work.

The commissioner also spent time hearing from the various arms of the council’s children’s and young people’s service, including a visit to Aycliffe Secure Centre, a presentation on the Youth Aware Mental Health programme, and a summary of the Student Voice survey, which provided an overview of the issues facing students in County Durham.

The Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield OBE, said: I’m delighted to be in Durham to recognise and celebrate the work of the Children and Families Partnership.

“They deserve their award for being creative and committed to getting the best for the children and young people of the county, and the way they took to Takeover Challenge and made it such a worthwhile experience.

“I believe that when society and institutions put children at the heart or the start of any process in which they are affected, and when the hopes and aims of children are listened to and acted on, it always makes for better services for children.

“Equally it’s good to recognise those who are doing that, and that’s what I’m here to do today.”

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, Cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We are delighted that the Children’s Commissioner has recognised the work of our service.

“Her opportunity to meet and talk with young people in County Durham has been the highlight of my day.  

“We can provide opportunities, promote and encourage, but it is the young people themselves who have made the commitment to our projects.

“I am immensely proud of their achievements.”

Following the success of the 2016 Takeover Challenge, work is taking place to encourage partners to involve children and young people in decision making throughout the year.

In particular, partners are invited to participate in the 2017 Takeover Challenge, which will officially launch on Friday 24 November.