POC John – a First Sea Lord’s Cadet explains how the Sea Cadets have faced COVID-19 challenges

POC John receiving his First Sea Lord Cadet’s certificate and badge from the First Sea Lord on HMS Victory in Portsmouth before lockdown.

“During lockdown, it’s been difficult for us to communicate with each other. Within the Sea Cadets, we can no longer attend out units on normal parade nights, and can no longer meet up with friends on courses held across the nation. As a senior cadet I’ve made many friends throughout my time in the organisation, in order to keep in touch I regularly chat with them over social media and also utilise the various platforms on which we can interact face to face.

The Sea Cadets gives young people a chance to voice their opinions through the medium of forums. Forums are held at a unit, district, area and national level which allow cadets to effect change within the organisation and build up their confidence by speaking in front of their peers. Recently in North West area we ran our first virtual cadet forum using Microsoft teams, this allowed cadets to join the forum without the restriction of distance, meaning that we could get a wider variety of opinions and could hear from cadets from across the area. I found it very empowering to be able to give my opinion on the current situation and to be heard by my peers, and I know many of those who attended also found it to be a worthwhile experience.

As a First Sea Lord’s Cadet (FSLC), I sit on the national cadet forum, through this I have direct contact with my fellow FSLCs, the Captain and CEO of the SCC and have the opportunity to help further the already high standard of virtual training that is being delivered. For example, we had input into the recently developed leadership academy, which allows senior cadets to continue developing their skills and advance towards promotion. I also take part in my area’s Senior Area Management Team meetings, these allow me to give feedback to the area on how our virtual training is being received by cadets in the area and what we need to do to improve it.

As FSLCs we thought it was important to unite cadets from all areas to join together to say thank you to all NHS staff and key workers on the frontline, we also wanted to thank the dedicated volunteers of the Sea Cadets so we produced a ‘thank you’ video in order to do so. Recently, the Sea Cadets also supported an initiative by the Girl Guides to send an open letter to the Government about listening to the voice of young people and addressing their concerns with the current situation.

We are all facing new and difficult challenges due to COVID-19, which is something we have also seen in the SCC. Units are learning new techniques to provide training for cadets virtually, but with many staff being key workers and some cadets having limited or no internet access, it is not always possible to engage everyone. I believe that many young people have struggled with mental health, feeling unable to balance school work, cadets and keeping in touch with family and friends. However, the Sea Cadets has been working hard to reduce these difficulties for staff and cadets by building up networks of support that stretch throughout the country and aim to help us all through this challenging time.”

Reserve Forces