The best way to get a clear picture of what volunteer police cadets do is to ask them. So that’s exactly what we did.
My name’s Nana and I’m 21 years old. I’ve been with the Volunteer Police Cadets since I was 15 and now volunteer as a staff member.
I was referred to the Cadets by my school counsellor because of behavioural problems. She thought having a structured programme after school would keep me out of trouble. But my perceptions of the police weren’t positive and I was initially reluctant to join.
Despite that, I really enjoyed my first evening in the Cadets. Everyone was friendly and welcoming and I couldn’t wait to go back.
Since then, I’ve done my Duke of Edinburgh Awards to Silver and I’m about to start on my Gold. And I’ve also volunteered at police events, music concerts and film premieres.
A world of difference
In 2008 I was part of the China-UK exchange programme. This was a fantastic opportunity to travel abroad and gain an insight into a very different culture. While I was there I helped in their schools, visited silk factories, walked the Great Wall of China and even met the world’s tallest man!
I also later took part in Encompass, which promotes understanding among young people of different backgrounds, faiths and cultures. This involved a selection weekend of around 20 young people in the New Forest, with the best eight being chosen to represent the UK. I was one of the lucky few! I got to spend a week in Abergavenny in Wales, where I mixed with people from Israel, the US and Palestine.
Over the years I’ve enjoyed some fantastic opportunities with the Cadets that I wouldn’t otherwise have had, like sailing, climbing and kayaking.
My long term aim? To join the police force so that I can make a difference in my local community. And that’s something I never thought I’d say!
Another cadet’s experience
Here’s another cadet’s experience of assisting the Army Cadet Force at the London Outreach Project, working with challenging young people from across London.
Over a May half term, I attended the Outreach Camp in Wales as the deputy head cadet with Harrow Volunteer Police Cadets.
Part of our job was to act as mentors for the young people who had been selected to go on the trip. For instance, I was in the same billet as the girls and had to make sure that they were in bed by lights out, which was no easy task.
Plenty of variety
Throughout the week I took part in a wide variety of activities along with the rest of my team. These included kayaking, horse riding, climbing, a walk up Pen Y Fan, a high wire course and a dingle scramble.
As the week went on I became attached to some of the girls and was quite sad when we came to leave, particularly because of uncertainty about whether the progress they’d made would continue once they returned home. However, many of the young people did express an interest in joining the police, army or combined cadet organisations.