20th December 2016
My name is Olivia Olarewaju-Moore, I'm 18 years old and I live in Lewisham. As a cadet I was a part of the Lewisham unit, before moving to the Greenwich unit as Lead Junior instructor. Two years have passed and I am currently a Volunteer Cadet Instructor for London Fire Brigade Fire Cadets.
I first found out about Fire Cadets through my interest in becoming a firefighter from a young age. I wanted to become a fire cadet but at the time I was too young, I felt hopeless until I reached secondary school; I came out of class one day and saw a poster on the wall and ran to the library to get an application form (the librarian hadn't even printed them off yet!).
My application was sent off and shortly after I received a call inviting me in for an interview. Once the interview was over I felt a sense of relief. It was an eager wait but when I went to the interview the instructor made me feel so welcome, I left there knowing that if I did get a place on the course, I would be treated with respect throughout my whole course. And I was.
My cadet course began in January 2015 and throughout the whole year I was able to feel like I had a voice, to communicate with others and be accepted. The company of people from different backgrounds made me develop my understanding of other cultures. In addition to this, I was able to pursue my goal of giving food and clothes to the homeless and local food banks with the help of my cadet group.
Fire Cadets exceeded my expectations without doubt - whether we were doing theory work or practical work, the support of my peers and the instructors has been irreplaceable. This then lead to me to gaining a BTEC Level 2 in Fire and Rescue Services in the community. Fire Cadets has also allowed me to showcase my creative side by letting me present a spoken word at my pass out ceremony. My spoken word consisted of my view on the average London teenager, with many of us facing drug and gang related crimes, some of which I was a part of. I took much of the inspiration from my life to make sure I could create something that came from my experience, rather than someone else’s.
Living in South East London, it was hard to distance yourself from crime; a lot of the time many of us don't realise that what we're doing has a significant effect on society. While it does depend on the individual, a vast amount of us are naïve and unaware of what our community has to offer us. I can admit I've never been an academic person, but luckily always able to just get the bare minimum. I was always told I had 'potential' and I did try, but at that stage in my life, education wasn't something I took into consideration. Unable to understand why my parents strongly encouraged me to be serious about school, I decided to take my life into my own hands. Falling deeper into the stereotype of a 'typical teenager', I felt my options in life were limited, until I joined Fire Cadets.
Being a Fire Cadet allowed me to show a side of myself to others I thought no one would ever see.
If I would have told anyone at Cadets about how I was behaving in school, they wouldn't have ever believed me. One day I asked myself, if I can act this way in Cadets, then why not try and apply it to school? And it worked. I was able to focus and apply myself correctly towards school, allowing me to achieve good grades in all of my GCSEs. I still follow this principle to this day, in everything I do. Fire Cadets has given me so many opportunities and I couldn't ever put into words how grateful I am to everyone that has helped me on my journey; due to their support and kindness, I will start my apprenticeship with London Fire Brigade in January 2017.Olivia's Spoken Word