Cinderford Fire Cadets are one of three units in Gloucestershire. The Fire Cadets scheme supports the development of young aged people 13 - 18 by providing positive role models and opportunities to participate in a wide range of activities.
“We’re always looking for new experiences for the cadets.” explained Fire Cadet Leader Chris Hale. “They have been helping to carry out ‘safe and well checks’ with members of the community and have all recently completed a Dementia Awareness Course. They have all been very interested in volunteering in the local community and enjoy practical tasks; when we heard about Foresters’ Forest, it seemed like the perfect thing to help out with.”
The Cadets have been keen to help in the local area for a variety of reasons. “We want to improve how the community view us as young people. We want to improve our groups’ teamwork. We want to get out and see different parts and aspects of the Forest of Dean, and we want to put something back into our community.” Said Connor. “Fire Cadets aren’t well known about,” said Ben, “we want people to know about us and that we care about the area. We want to change people’s perspectives that teenagers are delinquents, because we aren’t!” He said.
The Cadets got stuck in straight away, helping at Worcester Walk Community Project. “We’ve been clearing paths of brambles, raking to promote re-growth in the wildflower meadow, and removing bracken and Himalayan balsam. We could see that we had made such a difference!” Said Harriet. “Clearing bracken has probably been everyone’s favourite thing,” she said, “it is really great to see how much we can clear as a group. It also helped relieve a lot of tension at exam time, because many of us were feeling quite stressed. Whacking the bracken was very satisfying!” Connor explained: “We’ve found lots of fun in our work. We had a competition to see who could find the biggest Himalayan balsam as we were clearing it! We’ve loved destroying stuff (in a helpful way!), and just getting fresh air and away from our phones!” He said.
“It’s been great for them!” Chris Hale said. “They have laughed and joked, worked really hard, interacted and shared experiences. It’s been wonderful to see. They have taken a real pride in representing the Cadets and the Fire Service.”
Melanie Getgood (Project Leader for Worcester Walk Community Project) is full of praise for the cadets: “Our small volunteer group of mostly retired people couldn’t have made such an impression on the head height Bracken and Balsam, without the hard work of the cadets, their humour and banter helping them with the task in hand. It’s a very pastoral scene, to see them leaning on their rakes for a breather, having a chat with each other and enjoying being outside in a peaceful environment. I do hope they'll come back this summer too!”
Volunteering with Foresters’ Forest has made a great impression on the Cadets. “It has really made a difference to how I feel about community. After seeing the difference we could make, it has made me want to go out and do more and see more beautiful change. I think we all feel the same.” Said Harriet. The group are looking forward to more volunteering at Worcester Walk and also want to help with other Foresters’ Forest projects. It has also spurred them on to do other volunteering in the community. “I’ve started volunteering at the Dementia Café in Cinderford.” Said Ben.
“They are meant to do 30 hours of volunteering as a cadet,” Said Chris Hale, “but it’s great to see how these guys just want to do more and more!”