Kids take over council and teach councillors a few things

Left to right: Emilie Thornley, Administration Apprentice; Ellie Taylor, partnerships and funding officer; Paige Durnall, Jasmine Mason-Metcalfe, Luke Powney, Thomas San Jose, Coun Chris Hogg, Coun Giles Archibald, Clair Haynes, Inspira, Emma Ward, Connie Gallop, Lucy Gibson, Coun Janet Willis, Coun Sue Sanderson, Hollie Read, Holly Cowd, Rebecca Chandler.
Left to right: Emilie Thornley, Administration Apprentice; Ellie Taylor, partnerships and funding officer; Paige Durnall, Jasmine Mason-Metcalfe, Luke Powney, Thomas San Jose, Coun Chris Hogg, Coun Giles Archibald, Clair Haynes, Inspira, Emma Ward, Connie Gallop, Lucy Gibson, Coun Janet Willis, Coun Sue Sanderson, Hollie Read, Holly Cowd, Rebecca Chandler.

Students from Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale joined other pupils in staging a ‘takeover’ of South Lakeland District Council and let councillors know exactly what they think about their policies.

The ‘friendly coup’ by the teenagers from QES and Queen Katherine School in Kendal was all part of a National Takeover Day run by social enterprise company Inspira to give youngsters a taste of a real working environment.

During their visit to the council’s offices at South Lakeland House in Kendal the students took part in discussions about some of the council’s key policies and even helped to form plans for a new festival aimed at young people.

National Takeover Day aims to break down barriers between generations, and encourages the active involvement of young people in their communities and the working world.

It is an event particularly suitable for Years 10-13, as it prepares them for leaving education and entering adult life.

At this year’s takeover at South Lakeland House the young people took part in various activities, including a discussion about the key policies that make up the Council Plan and met senior councillors on SLDC’s Cabinet later in the day, to give their feedback on the plan.

The young people also took part in a ‘design a festival’ activity with Imelda Winters-Lewis, SLDC’s principal culture, arts and events officer. The ideas they came up with will be used as the starting point for a festival aimed specifically at young people scheduled for 2016.

SLDC portfolio holder for arts, culture and events, Coun Chris Hogg, said: “It was a brilliant day. It is a fresh approach and a great way to encourage young people to express their views on what we are doing.

“Some young people are not aware of all the services the council provide, who their councillor is and what they do. This was a great opportunity to explain about the council and its work.”

Hollie Read from QES, said: “It’s enlightening to know what happens at the council and it has been a great way to put our point across about council issues.”

Claire Willett, Inspira’s area manager for South Cumbria, said: “Inspira have delivered this opportunity in partnership with the South Lakeland District Council for three years now.

“We repeat it because young people always take so much out of the experience in terms of confidence and careers management. The young people were able to witness first-hand the workings of a local authority. In the past, some of the students have been inspired to consider a career in local government.”