This year's Children's Commissioners Take Over day saw over 50,000 children and young people taking over Schools, Parliamentary meetings, Councils and the Police to name a few. One of our young leaders, Gemma Caffrey, had the opportunity to take over the role of Dr Maggie Atkinson, The Children's Commissioner for England. Based in London, Gemma travelled down the morning of Take Over day, arriving at Greycoat Street in London, where she met four other young people who were also involved in the day. A young person called Tom led the day, which started with a fun ice breaker, and an opportunity to meet a new professionals and find out a bit about them and present back to the group. True to form, Gemma did this both professionally and confidently. One of Gemma's first official tasks was to scrutinise the complaint procedure the Children's Commissioners office use. Gemma confidentiality spoke about young people being able to speak up for themselves and challenge things that do not support this or oppressed them. She also stressed the importance of a complaints process being accessible to young people with learning disabilities. Working with the other young people in the group, they established what the procedure might look like. A comic style was the most popular choice!
Following on from the working group, Gemma was invited join everyone for lunch. Greeted by a waiter, she was seated at an 'French' style restaurant, which had been recreated in the conference room! Over lunch, Gemma and Sue Berelowitz chatted about all the work Changing Young Lives did, and then finished off with a game of 'cheat'. What a perfect way to spend your lunch break!
In the afternoon Gemma and another young person Duanja met with Maggie. They would be taking over Maggie's role in the afternoon, which was a meeting at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Curators at the museum had been taken over by a group of 40 students who were designing exhibitions that would entice more young people to visit the museum. Picked up in a private car, and driven to the museum, Gemma thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Gemma chatted with the young people finding out why they had chosen the design for their exhibitions: designs included a live display charting the dance and party movement. This interactive display would have music through the ages and outfits. Another one looked at the evolution of street clothing and music, from Nike and Adidas trainers to Hip hop and dance music. Martin Roth, who is the Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum joined the young people. He also was impressed with ideas they young people had developed and "Could see some of the designs being used in the future". Maggie was very impressed at the great job Gemma did working with both the staff and the young people, saying "She did such as great job, I could have gone off and had a cup of tea and no one would have noticed".
The day ended with a formal presentation by Dr Maggie Atkinson and Sue Berelowitz, The Chief Executive and Deputy Children's Commissioner for England.