14th April 2014
When we started the Supporting Inclusion Programme, supported by funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government, we aimed to open about 400 new groups for young people by September 2014.
In January this year we passed that milestone and are now well on our way to opening 500. By the end of the programme we will have created places in disadvantaged areas for more than 10,000 young people in a group run by Girlguiding, Scouts, Cadets or Brigades.
This fantastic achievement is thanks to the hard work of everyone in our network and their incredible army of volunteers. Having funded development workers to recruit the volunteers and raise awareness of how much the groups can offer young people makes a real difference. It has enabled the organisations to flourish in areas where there was little provision and is offering thousands of young people the chance to get involved.
Burnley Volunteer Police Cadets, our 400th new group which opened in January, supported by DCLG, recently passed their attestation ceremony.
It is a good example of what we are trying to achieve. The Cadet unit includes young people from Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale. All three districts are ranked in the top 100 most deprived areas in England. Burnley is ranked 21st. Twenty six per cent of the population within these three districts are aged between 0-19 years. In 2008/09, the Place Survey explored residents' attitudes and opinions on a range of topics including the issue of activities for teenagers. Almost sixty per cent of adults in Burnley perceived teenagers hanging around the streets to be a problem.
Five new volunteers are helping run the group. There are a mixture of police officers, police staff, police volunteers and ex-cadets who are motivated by the desire to give something back to the community and help young people to become positive leaders in their communities.
When they first join, the cadets are often very quiet. Through team building, fun games and mentoring by the volunteers the cadets begin to come out of their shell, becoming more confident around different people and developing new friendships.
Lancashire Police report that the feedback from schools has been extremely positive. Young people’s attitude to teachers and learning has improved which the staff attribute to the discipline of the cadet unit.
The Unit leaders carried out some interviews with the Cadets half way through their induction. The cadets said they feel it has helped to increase their confidence, that they are making new friends and feel valued as they are part of a structured organisation of their own choice and will be helping the communities that they live in. They are keen to fundraise for community projects and now that they have their uniform just cannot wait to get out on the streets.
I hope we can support many more young people to do the same.