MORE THAN 200 YOUNG PEOPLE IN SUNDERLAND took part in the annual Takeover Challenge.

It was the first day of a national programme of events and activities, providing young people with their first steps into the adult world of work, politics, sport and the media.

Sunderland’s annual contribution to national Children’s Commissioner’s ‘Takeover Challenge’ is to give young people the opportunity to ‘shadow’ the adults at work and get involved in the decision making process.

At the Civic Centre, visitors included pupils from Mill Hill Primary School, Hudson Road Primary School and Fulwell Junior School.

Among those taking part at the City Council were the Mayor of Sunderland, Councillor Alan Emerson; the Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, Irene Lucas; Chief Executive of Together for Children, Alex Hopkins; and Director of Education, Simon Marshall.

They welcomed pupils to join them at work and get a glimpse of their roles and responsibilities at work representing the city.

Other activities included in the ‘Takeover Challenge’ were:
* Children from across the city visiting Sunderland Carers Centre to look at the work of the Telecare service for vulnerable people living at home, and to help Public Health develop a new website and App for young carers;
* Pupils from Mill Hill and Southwick Primary schools joining Northumbria Police for the day at Railway Row police station;
* Students from City of Sunderland College joining Sunderland City Council’s Access to Housing Team to learn more about people at risk of becoming homeless and the help and support available to prevent it;
* Children from Valley Road ‘taking over’ the breakfast radio show on SUN FM.

Councillor Emerson gave a presentation about Sunderland’s Coat of Arms to Hudson Road and Mill Hill pupils, and hosted a question and answer session where they asked him about being Mayor.

He said: “It’s been a very full day meeting young people from our city, I’ve enjoyed meeting pupils from Hudson Road and Mill Hill and I hope they have enjoyed their visit.”

Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, Councillor Louise Farthing said: “Our city really gets behind the annual Takeover Challenge, with more and more groups and organisations providing young people with opportunities to enter the work environment and perhaps see where their future careers might lie.

“Next week I’m being ‘shadowed’ by 17 year old Loren who’s with Children’s Services on placement, who will join me at meetings of both Cabinet and full Council to see policy planning and decision making in action.

“The younger generation have the future of our city in their hands, and it’s vital we make them feel part of that process as quickly as possible so they know what kind of contribution they’d like to make to the adult world as they go through school and get older.”

The Takeover Challenge is a national event run by the Children’s Commissioner for England which gives children the opportunity to step into the shoes of adults at work. Organisations and businesses benefit as they gain a fresh insight into their work by listening to children’s ideas and experience.

Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield added: “Takeover Challenge goes from strength to strength every year, with tens of thousands of children across England now taking part. I am enormously grateful to organisations and individuals who embrace the challenge and throw open their doors to involve young people.

“Children are full of fresh ideas, imagination and energy so they can really provide a fresh perspective that organisations can benefit from. Giving children and young people a chance to do adult roles for the day helps organisations understand the needs of children, who can also use the experience to show off their talents and achieve their full potential.”