Meet Nikki Doubleday, who recently took over as unit lead for Clacton Volunteer Police Cadet Unit, following four years as a leader and unit deputy at our Colchester VPC Unit.

A work colleague suggested she’d be perfect as a cadet leader but Nikki was reluctant at first.

“To be honest, at the time I was working full-time and shifts and had a young family of my own so I thought to myself ‘Really? She cannot be serious. Where do I have the time?’,” she says.

“But I looked into it and applied. I was then invited to go along for three ‘suitability sessions’ at the Colchester unit so I could meet the cadets and they could meet me. Fortunately, they took to me and I liked them, too, so I stayed. It then became very clear that I do have the time!

“I took on the role of unit deputy after two years and then, in March, with trepidation, I took a giant leap of faith to step up as the unit lead for Clacton.

“I am so glad I did stay on after those initial suitability sessions. The cadets are great young people, full of untapped ideas and enthusiasm. They are so charming, witty and funny as well.

“I feel the Volunteer Police Cadet programme is a massive benefit to everyone involved. Some cadets come from difficult backgrounds but we follow a structure which helps turn things around for them. Cadets have applied for jobs and been asked about the VPC programme, and this has played a part in them getting the job.

“Some cadets have become leaders when they leave at 18 and some have gone on to become Specials or regular police officer. Some promote their positive experience or inspire others when they attend community engagement events or talk to the public when carrying out the tasks we set them.

“Basically, the VPC scheme helps cadets develop into fine young people, who are equipped through learning to do the right thing and take ownership. And it also helps the adult volunteers to develop and learn new skills, while in a safe learning environment and while having some fun.

"I’d also say that the more leaders a unit has, the more diverse the skills and experiences we can offer and share with the cadets. It also means leaders can be more flexible in their attendance.

“I am so proud of the cadets in both units I have served. Some of them have had to overcome struggles and battles but they are good people who are a great benefit to their communities.”

Nikki says that her volunteering experiences have not only benefited her but also members of her family as she’s had the opportunity to learn new skills and obtain qualifications.

“I’ve qualified as a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award assessor and my eldest son has participated in the scheme. I’ve also encouraged him to undertake a BTEC in Volunteering and Leadership, which I also deliver to the cadets, and he’ll also be part of the National Citizen Service scheme, again, which I promote to cadets. And I’ve undertaken City and Guilds qualifications in Leadership and Management.

“And it’s all thanks to cadets.”

“I would recommend being a leader in a Volunteer Police Cadet Unit to anyone who gets along with young people and has their best interests at heart.

“We have 13 units across the county so there won’t be one far from where you live!”

Could you be a volunteer like Nikki?

Find out more about volunteering for Essex Police and about the Volunteer Police Cadets and their leaders.