MORE THAN 200 YOUNG PEOPLE IN SUNDERLAND are taking part in the annual Takeover Challenge today.

Friday (18 Nov) sees the launch 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.

Among those taking part on Friday to help launch this year’s programme are 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.

All four will welcome pupils from different schools and colleges across the city into the civic centre, to join them at work and get a glimpse of their roles and responsibilities at work representing the city.

Other activities on Friday and elsewhere in the ‘Takeover Challenge’ includes;
– 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 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 that
– Children from Valley Road ‘taking over’ the breakfast radio show on SUN FM

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.”

Cllr Farthing added: “I am particularly pleased that this challenge is taken so seriously at national political level, with one of our young people invited to Westminster next week to shadow the Permanent Business Secretary and another invited for work experience at the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in London.”

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.”