Young people found out what it’s like to make decisions and take control as they moved in to East Sussex County Council as part of national Takeover Day.
At the event on Friday 23 November in County Hall, Lewes, 75 young people from Wealden district took part in an exercise to decide how to allocate £10,000 worth of funding for youth projects in the district.
During the day young people took part in discussions on various projects bidding for cash and heard presentations from eight youth groups who pitched ideas for sums from £500 up to £2,000 to help them get their projects off the ground.
They then had the difficult task of deciding how best to allocate the £10,000 already allocated for the area by County Council and the Wealden Youth Partnership.
The County Council’s Chief Executive, Becky Shaw, and the Director of Children’s Services, Matt Dunkley were both involved in the day, and other County Council staff, including youth workers and teachers also took part.
The adults supported and assisted the young people as they discussed the projects, listened to young people’s presentations and then watched a participating audience of 40 young people vote for the projects and how to divide up the funds.
Cllr Colin Belsey, the Council’s Lead Member for Children and Families was at the event. He said: “Takeover Day is a great national event, designed at getting young involved in making decisions that make a difference. We have been involved for several years and every year we try and do something a little bit different but always designed at getting young people involved.”
“Although the event does vary each year, it always gives them the chance to see what it’s like to make decisions that affect the lives of our residents. But it also gives us the opportunity to listen to young people, involve them and get some fresh ideas and insight. Above all, though, it is always great fun.”
Matt Smeeth, a member of the Youth Cabinet for Wealden district, was one of the young people who got involved in the event on Friday.
He said: “It was really good to see so many young people from Wealden in County Hall and to find out about what young people from different youth groups think is needed in the area. It was great to hear their presentations and then discuss with our peers which projects we thought should receive funding. This helped us to get an idea of the kinds of difficult decisions adults have to make about budgets and spending in the County.”
The Children’s Commissioner’s Takeover Day is a national event organised by the Children’s Commissioner for England. It began in 2007 and aims to give children and young people the chance to try out lots of different jobs, get involved in discussing issues and making key decisions.
The eight Wealden Youth Groups that pitched their ideas and were awarded were:
- Heathfield Duke of Edinburgh Group – £579.98
Funding for first aid training before expeditions so that young people feel confident and safe.
- Uckfield Youth Centre – £1,089.95
Funding for new equipment for youth club to make their club a more interesting place to go.
- Heathfield Youth Council – £755.31
Funding for a film/tea night with elderly people from a residential home and also working with a residential home for adults with dementia, to assist them with the design of a garden.
- Clued Up Info Shop – £919.91
Young people using drop-in centre want to improve equipment and replace outdated PCs with laptops and a printer – this will help them with homework, research, CV writing and job searches and applications.
- Heathfield Works! – £1,959
Group of young people who undertake 10 week training course to help them get back into work, training or education want to build into the course a community graduation ceremony that celebrates achievements. They want money to put on these events on a regular basis. Organising the event will also contribute to their skills when they come to applying for further work or training opportunities
- Hailsham Youth Council Friday Night project – £2,000
Funding to make sure there are interesting and structured, safe youth-led activities for young people in the Hailsham area that happen on a Friday night.
- Crowborough Rocks – £1,048
A group that supports young people to make music and organise gigs so that they can practise their skills and put on gigs provide something for young people to attend. They want funding to hire venues, and publicise three events in their local area
- Heathfield Drama Group – £1,748
Group wants equipment to help them put on more professional productions, film them and also visit schools and community groups to put on plays.