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Community Cadets commended by the Mayor of Greater Manchester

03/12/2019

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has commended Compassion in Action (CIA) Community Cadets on their dedication to completing an innovative 12-month programme designed to prepare them for adulthood.

The former Leigh MP made a personal visit to our Patrick House headquarters on Leigh Road to present a certificate of achievement to the young people. He told them: “We are all so proud of you. I hope that the knowledge and experiences you have gained will help you to better understand your community and feel assured that there is a future here for you in Leigh.”

The cadets, who are aged eight to 15, then shared with Mr Burnham the highlights of their year, which included visits to the headquarters of Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue.

They have also been assisting tenants with learning difficulties; having conversations about bullying, positive relationships and internet safety; and fundraising for less fortunate families at Christmas through bag-packing initiatives.

West Leigh resident Lisa Speers, aged 34, revealed that her volunteering role at the cadets has helped her grow in confidence and secure paid work at St John’s Primary School. “I have my family at home and my family here,” she said.

To further the cadets’ learning, Mr Burnham was invited to educate them on his role and responsibilities as Mayor.

The former Member of the Youth Parliament for Leigh also revealed that he has introduced free bus travel for 16 to 18-year-olds in a scheme which is set to save card holders and their families around £500 a year.

“I want you to be able to travel to your preferred college or find work without worrying about bus fares,” he explained. “I want Greater Manchester to be a place of opportunity.”

The cadets raised the issue of homelessness and Mr Burnham shared with them his plans to end the need for rough sleeping in Greater Manchester: “So many people are struggling. Around 400 people will be sleeping in A Bed Every Night shelters tonight, but more than 130 people will still sleep on the streets,” he explained. “We don’t want to walk on by. We want to work together to get people off the streets for good.”

During a discussion about the cadets’ future career aspirations, the young people shared their hopes – including working for the police and fire service; going into teaching; and becoming scientists. One cadet said she would like to move into politics and be the first female Mayor of Greater Manchester.

In conclusion, Mr Burnham asked the cadets: “If you could have anything in Leigh, what would you want?” Their answers ranged from “For everyone to have a home” to “Feeling safe” and “A good, positive attitude”.

Speaking on behalf of the charity’s staff and volunteer team, our Chief Executive Officer Pam Gilligan added: “We would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Andy for joining us for our presentation. His attendance allowed our cadets to learn first hand how local government works and to confidently share their vision for Leigh.

‘We would also like to thank Paula Richmond, who is seconded by Wigan Council and has been instrumental in the success of our Community Cadets.

‘We are excited to see our young people mature into compassionate and community-minded citizens that we can all feel very proud of.”

CIA’s Community Cadets scheme is supported by Wigan Council, Jo Platt and GMP. The cadets meet at Patrick House every Monday from 6pm to 8pm. For enquiries, telephone 01942 418830.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester is pictured with Compassion in Action’s Community Cadets

Andy Burnham leads a discussion about future career choices