A group of 30 enthusiastic young people led a day of workshops and discussions for Norfolk County Council staff on Friday 17 November as part of National Takeover Day.
The volunteers took on the task of running the Early Help team’s annual away day. The Early Help team work with children, young people and their families to offer the right support at an early stage before a small need becomes a bigger one.
The young people were involved in all aspects of the event, from being part of a working group to plan and prepare for the day, to leading workshops and discussions.
During the event, the young volunteers led a wide range of activities, such as sharing their stories in a ‘human library’ session and running a yoga and mindfulness workshop. Young carers, young people with disabilities and pupils who have been excluded from school also talked about their experiences.
It gave the team a better understanding of how young people feel about difficulties they have in everyday life and the best ways of dealing with them. Most importantly, the aim was for everyone involved to go away feeling more confident and empowered.
Millie, 15, said: “We had a voice that people heard – it was about telling them about our experiences and qualities that other young people they work with may also have, so they can recognise it and realise, this is what I need to do to help them.”
Cassie, 20, said: “I think it’s a massive opportunity and it was great to be able to represent young people who are experiencing the same thing as me. It gave us the chance to say exactly what we want.”
Originally launched in 2007 by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, #TakeoverDay sees businesses and organisations across the country open their doors to young people who take over the role of existing staff. With young people in decision-making positions for the day, organisations have the opportunity to hear their views and opinions which can be used to inform their business and services.
Stuart Dark, Vice-Chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services Committee, said: “The council is committed to putting children and young people at the very heart of what we do. The Early Help team has shown that we are serious about listening to our young people by inviting them to run their annual staff away day.
“This was an excellent opportunity for young people to make their voices heard and influence how the council delivers services that affect their lives. And our staff benefited from learning directly about the issues young people are concerned about, giving them a fresh perspective on their work.”