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Cadets inspire council leaders with heartfelt presentation


COMPASSION in Action’s (CIA) Community Cadets have delivered a presentation to senior council leaders to mark the one-year anniversary of the scheme.

Young people aged eight to 15 addressed managers from Wigan Council’s Children’s Services at our headquarters on Leigh Road.

The cadets shared their personal highlights – including visits to GMP’s Mounted Police Unit, Greater Manchester Fire Rescue Service, Bolton Mountain Rescue and Regency Glass.

Warmly praising the children and their efforts, Mike Chew, Director of Community Services: Start Well, said: “It is brilliant to hear about your experiences, which have helped me see what an amazingly worthwhile scheme this is. Public speaking is not easy, but you nailed it. You spoke clearly and confidently – translating why this programme is important. You have given us a lot to think about in terms of how we can provide more opportunities to young people in Leigh.”

Mother-of-three Lisa Speers, 34, from West Leigh, shared her own story. She initially attended cadets to support her son Mark,10, but she enjoyed it so much she stayed on as a volunteer.

“My own confidence started to grow to the point where I now have a job at St John’s Primary School as a dinnertime assistant,” Lisa explained. “This would not have happened if I had not been coming to cadets. I never saw anyone as I was a carer for family members and never did anything for me.

‘I love this group; it’s like a family. It shows our children Leigh can be your future and you don’t have to move away to make your life great.”

Lisa’s son Mark added: “I am proud of my mum; she has got her confidence back. She did music at college and used to go on stage and perform. I definitely believe in her that she could do that again.”

Youth Community Worker Paula Richmond has been seconded to the scheme by the council as part of The Deal. She helps to recruit the cadets, supports the volunteers and assists with the planning of the sessions.

She said: “Although it’s fun, the scheme is structured. We have been making the children aware of who Leigh’s decision-makers are and discussing issues that will affect them as adults. It has been fantastic to watch the young people and volunteers grow in confidence and develop.”

PC Andy Parkinson was also in attendance to support the youngsters, who enjoyed a special buffet provided by our catering team. The scheme is backed by GMP, Leigh MP Jo Platt and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who will be presenting the cadets with their certificates next month.

Pam Gilligan, our Chief Executive Officer, added: “I would like to thank James Winterbottom, Director of Children’s Services, and his team for seconding Paula to our cadets; also, our marvellous apprentice Business Administrator Thea Compton-Jones, who is an amazing asset to the charity. Thea helps Paula and Lisa with the cadets scheme on a voluntary basis.

‘All our wonderful young people have embraced every project we have put before them over the past 12 months. There is a future for them here in Leigh and it is our privilege to help them love where they live.”

CIA Community Cadets meet at our Patrick House headquarters every Monday from 6pm to 8pm. For enquiries, telephone 01942 418830.

PC Andy Parkinson of GMP and Lisa Speers are pictured with Compassion in Action’s Community Cadets.

Lisa Speers and her son Mark are pictured with Mike Chew, Graham Doubleday and Pam Gilligan.