Teenager takes over tri-borough
Friday November 11, 2011
A west London teenager is taking control of a £500m budget and three councils’ children’s services departments today - for one day only.
As part of Takeover Day (November 11), 15-year-old Klaus Visha, from White City, will spend the day shadowing Andrew Christie in his role as the shared director of children’s services for the boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, and Kensington and Chelsea.
Klaus, who attends the Bridge Academy in Fulham, is one of 40 young people, aged 13-19, taking part in the day. Supported by the children’s commissioner, Takeover Day gives children and young people the chance to work with adults for the day and be involved in decision-making. Its aim is to give young people more of a voice and involve them in issues that affect their lives, giving organisations and companies a fresh perspective.
Klaus said: “This job looks really interesting. I want to know how Andrew looks after the three boroughs at the same time. It is a big job and I’m looking forward to seeing how he manages it.
“I want to see how unfortunate children and families get the help they need and would like to see how Andrew has an input into this. This is also an opportunity to see if my views on how children’s services could be improved will be taken seriously and to find out ways to make my suggestions happen”.
Andrew, who oversees a budget of £500m, 150 schools and the care of hundreds of looked-after children across H&F, K&C and Westminster, is looking forward to the day.
He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for all of us at the council to learn from our young residents, to listen to their views and get a fresh perspective on how we provide our services. It is central to the success of tri-borough children’s services that our councils offer young people what they want and what is important to them.”
Andrew’s new role as tri-borough director is to combine children’s services across the three boroughs. The move is designed to protect vital front-line services like fostering, child protection and youth offending teams, generating expected savings of £11.8million a year in children’s services.
Today, the group of teenagers will be working alongside adults and shadowing officers in various departments like environmental health, finance and community safety. The young people will also complete challenges and tasks, emulating some of the jobs in the council. These include reporting on the event for H&F Buzz magazine, hosting the Takeover Day celebration event, carrying out test purchases with the Trading Standards team and sharing their ideas on the Earls Court and White City developments
Andrew added: “I hope that the students taking part in Takeover Day find the experience positive, interesting and helpful for their futures. Who knows, we may even inspire them to take up a career in local government!”