JoJo has been a part of the police cadet unit in Thurrock since 2016. Her involvement came about quite unexpectedly. Being a full time Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) for Essex Police, and a mum to young children, JoJo was convinced she didn’t have time to take on volunteer work. But in 2016 she was invited to the Thurrock unit to talk to the cadets about community policing. And she never left.
“I had a lot of fun interacting with the group. It was such a positive atmosphere,” said JoJo. “When I saw how this diverse group of young people were enthusiastically trying to complete a challenge, and having a lot of fun in the process, it really resonated with me. “They were working together to develop their skills and trying to make a difference to their community.”
JoJo began as a cadet instructor and then in 2018 became deputy unit leader. Two years later she took over the head role as unit leader in 2020.
“I have so many fantastic memories from over the years. Whether it’s seeing the cadets grow in confidence while on one of our Summer Camps or completing the Duke of Edinburgh award. Or forging life-long friendships as they support each other to overcome personal challenges. “Even the weekly unit nights are brilliant. The cadets learn about policing principles and community cohesion and the conversations and discussions that come out of this are often hilarious.”
And it’s not just the cadets who gain from our leaders’ involvement, JoJo explains how she’s gained academic qualifications through her participation as a cadet leader.
“I have earned a City & Guilds Affiliateship in leadership and management (Level 5), and I have a recognised qualification in safeguarding and working with young people,” said JoJo.
But for JoJo, her favourite thing is seeing the young people she has coached and mentored complete their cadet journey.
“I feel very proud when I see our cadets ‘age out’,” said JoJo. “Knowing that we’ve helped give them the confidence and skills to go on and thrive in the next stage of their journey is hugely rewarding. “Whether it’s onto work, higher education or a career in policing, it gives us a great sense of achievement knowing we have supported our cadets to reach their goals."
Our cadet programme relies on our volunteer cadet leaders. Without them, we couldn’t offer young people in our communities these amazing opportunities. JoJo urges anyone thinking about helping their community, to consider volunteering their time to support their local police cadet unit.
“Any time you can give to supporting young people will make a huge difference, not just to the cadets, but the wider community too. “You’ll find it extremely rewarding and can pick up new skills and qualifications on the way.”
If you’re interested in volunteering as a police cadet leader, please get in contact with us.