Young people take over Camden town hall

About 50 Camden young people took over the town hall for a day of debate on issues ranging from police stop and search tactics to sex and relationships education.

The Children’s Commissioner for England’s Children and Young People’s Takeover Day on Friday (21 November) gave young people the chance to work with adults for the day and be involved in decision-making.

They benefit from the opportunity to experience the world of work and make their voices heard, while adults and organisations gain a fresh perspective on what they do.

The local young people worked with different services in Camden Council and Camden Police to come up with creative solutions and campaigns. They gained an understanding of some of the issues in Camden, while raising the profile of children and young people’s participation and rights.

Young people took part from Parliament Hill School, Regent High School, Haverstock School, Hampstead School, Camden School for Girls and Swiss Cottage School, as well as the Reactive Forum disabled young people’s group.

Camden’s Youth MP Hannah Morris joined the students for a cake-cutting ceremony in the Mayor’s Parlour to mark Takeover Day in Camden.

In teams, the students were set challenges by different services to help tackle real issues in the borough, including:

  • how the police can improve communication with young people;
  • how schools can make sex and relationships education more engaging; and
  • how the Council and other organisations can make work experience placements more interesting for young people.

Later in the day, students had the opportunity to take to the floor in the Council Chamber, presenting their big ideas to a panel including Councillor Georgia Gould, Cabinet Member for Young People; Councillor Angela Mason CBE, Cabinet Member for Children; Councillor James Yarde, Camden’s ‘Young People’s Champion’, and Councillor Jenny Headlam-Wells, Chair of the Children, Schools and Families Scrutiny Committee.

Councillor Angela Mason CBE, Cabinet Member for Children
“I loved the enthusiasm and originality that the young people brought to their presentations. Thank you to all those who contributed, as well as the officers from the Council and Police who supported them.

We will look closely at the suggestions made by the young people to see how they can be incorporated into our work to help make Camden a great place to grow up.”
Councillor Angela Mason CBE, Cabinet Member for Children

They also met the Mayor of Camden, Councillor Lazzaro Pietragnoli, and the Director of Children, Schools and Families, Martin Pratt, who compered the presentations and Q&A debate in the Council Chamber.One team of students used humorous film clips of themselves role-playing work experience scenarios to show how placements should not be organised – for example, not leaving them to answer phone enquiries without proper supervision or guidance.

Cllr Georgia Gould, Cabinet Member for Young People
“The young people were given just a few hours to come up with their ideas and produce their presentations and they did brilliantly.

Hearing about their opinions and experiences, as well as their solutions to some real issues in Camden, was really powerful.”
Cllr Georgia Gould, Cabinet Member for Young People