More than 100 young people came to experience working life at Hammersmith Town Hall as part of H&F Council’s annual Takeover Day.
Among them were six school pupils who became reporters for the day after shadowing the communications officer.
Here is their report, written by Stephanie Bilham, 16, of Fulham Cross School; Ray Kula, 12, of Fulham Boys School; Mia Issa, 13, Iman Ahmed, 13, and Hanan Shidan, 15, of Phoenix Academy; and Rajaa Boucahb, 17, of Burlington Danes Academy.
No pain, no gain. That was the experience for 135 young people who took over Hammersmith & Fulham Council last week.
The young people from schools across the borough joined the annual Takeover Day event on 18 November – held nationally to allow students to experience the world of work.
This year’s event was the biggest to date for the council, with 28 roles on offer, including mystery shopper, housing officer, parks police, facilities management and social worker.
There was even chance to interview councillors.
Hammersmith & Fulham’s Youth Mayor Aminata Koroma, who is 15 and attends Phoenix Academy, said: “It is a fun day, you get a lot of experience and it is something to write on your CV and personal statement.”
This is the sixth year that the council has been involved in Takeover Day, which is led nationally by the Children’s Commissioner and involves some 44,000 children each year.
The council’s Youth Voice Co-ordinator Brenda Whinnett explained: “It gives young people a chance to experience the world of work and for the council to listen to the views of young people. We also gain from the fresh ideas and creativity of the young people. It’s my favourite day in the year apart from Christmas.”
One of the groups to take part were involved in a nutrition challenge.
They visited fast food restaurants and compared the menu with a balanced diet to get ideas for a healthy alternative.
West London Free School students Amara Lalji, 14, and Warwick Mohammed, 14, both took part in the challenge.
Amara said: “I applied because I want to be a nutritionist and Takeover Day has made me want to do it even more.”
Warwick added that he wanted to ‘help people who are overweight or underweight’.
Also taking part in the day were Makeda Downer, 13, from Phoenix Academy, who took on the role of mystery shopper.
“We learned about loan sharks,” she said. “I applied to experience different roles in life.”
Meanwhile, Felix Hopkins, 13, from Fulham Boys School, was a neighbourhood warden and enjoyed ‘going for a spin in the van and learning information about the area’.
In the reporters and photographers group, a team of girls and boys learned interviewing skills and had chance to grill Councillor Caroline Needham about her role as a politician.
Cllr Needham had some advice for the young people: “There is a path for everyone – but do what you enjoy.”
From the reporters group, Rajaa Boucahb, 17, a pupil at Burlington Danes Academy, said she was glad to have had the opportunity to work alongside professionals, while Mia Issa, 13, from Phoenix Academy, described the day as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime experience’.
Other roles included shadowing parks police and working as events host for a final celebration event held at the end of the day, hosted by the Youth Mayor, and her deputy Joshua Yirenkyi.
Joshua, 15, a pupil at Hurlingham Academy, who dreams of one day becoming the Prime Minister or Mayor of London, said Takeover Day was a ‘good opportunity for young people to gain confidence and experience’.
“Take every opportunity you can and don’t waste time,” he added.