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The Takeover Challenge puts children and young people into real-life decision-making positions in organisations. Children gain valuable insight into and experience of a workplace, while organisations benefit from a fresh perspective on their work.

I was given the opportunity to take over from David Knott, the director for Civil Society, at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Wednesday 14th November. After sitting in on a brief meeting with David I got the chance to speak with him on a 1:1 basis, getting to know more about him and his role, which was enjoyable as he was very friendly and his work is interesting.

Next, I met with someone from the loneliness team, who spent some time explaining how the government is trying to combat it. I was surprised to learn that young people at school are one of the main groups affected by loneliness – so I think this is a really important project that needs attention.

I was then given the chance to briefly sit in on an executive board meeting where I got to see how decisions are made in the civil service. After slipping out of the board meeting I then went and met someone from the Points of Light project, which celebrates individuals who make an outstanding voluntary contribution to the community. It’s a very relatable project and a really nice thing to do.

During a tour around the department I found out that they have their own eagle, which they use to scare away pigeons so they don’t leave bird poo on the building; that’s pretty cool!

I then got the chance to meet with the private office for the minister of civil society and sport, who told me all about their role and how they mediate between the minister and the civil servants. They were very interested in what I wanted to do during my takeover, and they were keen for me to know how important it is that I make my voice heard, which is brilliant.

After lunch I met with someone from the sports team who explained their involvement in planning the Commonwealth games, as well as preparing for Euro 2020. I love sport, so this was one of the best parts of the day for me.

My other favourite part of the day was the last meeting where I got to take part in a youth session and discuss issues relevant to young people today; these included votes at 16 and knife crime. I was given the opportunity to talk about how I think the department could engage young people on these topics, plus I got the chance to tell them about some of my interests.

About the author
Jamie participated in 2018’s Whitehall Takeover Challenge
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