The Navy Cadet Force, based in Clayhanger, haven’t allowed the lockdown to dampen their spirit, quite the opposite as they, like many of us, have embraced technology to engage with each other, complete challenges and continue to work towards recognised awards.
Second Lieutenant Ben Richards (NCF), commanding officer at Training Ship Vigo, the name given to the Unit, took over last April and has already boosted cadet numbers from 4 to 26 and volunteer staff from 3 to 11. The Unit were gearing up for summer camp, their key fundraising period and a move to an Industrial Unit in Walsall Wood that’s set to become a national training centre when COVID-19 struck.
Ben and his team, however, were determined to keep their Cadets engaged and supported throughout the lockdown. They set up a closed Facebook Group for the Cadets, enabling them to engage with each other and separate units in the West and East Midlands. From cross unit challenges using Battleships to making catapults or dens using household items, every Tuesday and Sunday, Ben and his team upload work and activities to the group.
Ben said: “We have groups between 8 and 12 years of age and 12 to 18, so we deliver a variety of activities tailored to each age group. Our juniors for example, under normal circumstances, would work towards ‘phased’ red, yellow, green and blue badges and we’ve been able to continue their progress towards by setting tasks and asking cadets to send video or photographic evidence.”
The response he says, from both the Cadets and parents, has been nothing but positive: “Parents have told me they are struggling to get their children to engage with school work but because of the fun aspect of the Cadet work, they’ve responded doing that work straight off. We’ve now started to work with parents to integrate school work into the Cadet programme to encourage them to keep up with their learning.”
“For a young person to be stuck in 24/7 - confined to four walls - we need to do something as a community to help keep them active.”
Ben says the current situation provides an ideal opportunity for young people to see if Cadets is for them: “We are only a phone call or email away, no long term commitment. Join us during lockdown and see for yourself what it’s like - if you enjoy it then we’ll see you once lockdown is over.”
Despite the amazing work Ben and his team are doing, the lockdown situation has impacted on them financially: “We are around £7,000 down so far this year as a result which means much of the work going into our new training facility is being funded by me personally. Walsall for All have made a large contribution but we are missing out on fundraising activities that hit a peak this time of the year.”
If you are interested in joining the Navy Cadet Force in Clayhanger, would like to help out by volunteering or support by donation or fundraising then please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Ben on 07368152638. For more information on the Navy Cadets visit www.navycadetforce.co.uk.