Giving cadets a voice
Every year, cadets from across the country come together to share their views. Young People Support Manager Jane Winfield explains why it’s so important
How do young people have a voice in Sea Cadets?
We have always listened to cadets and we know that their input is crucial. We wanted to make the process much easier and accessible to every young person in Sea Cadets, so we created the Cadet Voice programme. I became the Young People Support Manager in September 2021. It is my job to make sure that we are involving cadets at every level of the process and in every decision we make.
What does the Cadet Voice programme involve?
Cadet Voice is the term that Sea Cadets uses to cover every aspect of youth participation in the charity. We are working towards an approach at every level of Sea Cadets that ensures all our young people actively contribute to their Sea Cadets Experience by helping to design it.
Why is Cadet Voice so important?
Youth participation across Sea Cadets is really important to ensure that cadets are getting the experience they need and want with us. Getting more involved in Cadet Voice is also an opportunity for cadets to learn vital skills for life, such as communication, working together and negotiation. It provides a space for cadets to champion campaigns they feel passionate about, such as the environment, emotional wellbeing and other important issues that impact their lives.
How is Cadet Voice organised?
We ask all units to have a minimum of two meetings a year. All parts of the unit should meet. Whether this happens separately in detachments/divisions or as a whole unit depends on the size of the unit. Following the unit meetings, up to four cadets per unit can attend district meetings to discuss their feedback with other cadets from units nearby.
Finally, each district can send representatives to an area meeting, led by members of our National Cadet Voice Team. These meetings really show the power of collective voices, as often cadets who live
far away from each other realise they have the same issues and ideas for change!
The National Cadet Voice team will then bring all the feedback to the table, and at Cadet Conference we will be able to work through cadets’ ideas and feedback in greater detail, and make positive changes for everyone.
What is the Cadet Conference?
At the end of each year of Cadet Voice meetings, this conference brings together cadets and all the discussions they have had at every level. We meet up so we can work together with hundreds of cadets to find ideas and suggestions to make positive change. There are workshops designed for cadets, by cadets, which help us to take the suggestions made in meetings all over the country and turn them into real ideas and solutions.
What positive outcomes has Cadet Voice had?
There have been a lot of changes since the Cadet Voice programme was launched. We have made many changes to the Cadet Training Programme (CTP) that were direct suggestions from Cadet Voice meetings. We created the Sea Cadets Portal in response to Cadet Voice and have continued to improve it after feedback from cadets.
We have listened when cadets told us how they want to be communicated with, and this resulted in more applications to the Cadet Conference than ever before! Much of the conference last November focused on asking cadets for their feedback on the draft for our charity’s next strategy (which will cover what we aim to achieve for young people by 2028). During the sessions, cadets told us what they wanted to see over the next five years, and these ideas have been incorporated into our plans.
Can all cadets get involved in Cadet Voice?
Absolutely! We want all cadets to be heard and listened to, and so we ask all cadets to take part in Cadet Voice work. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know how you can join in.
Find out more
Excitingly, the Cadet Training Programme will soon be full of new Cadet Voice lessons, so all cadets should be participating in them at their units this year. If any cadet wants to be involved, talk to your volunteers and see how the unit can make change happen! There is lots of information here.
Questions? You can email email@example.com
Photos: Nathaniel Rosa
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