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Volunteer Police Cadets, Stockport Unit, Greater Manchester Police

Supporting image for showcase 'Volunteer Police Cadets, Stockport Unit, Greater Manchester Police'
Supporting image for showcase 'Volunteer Police Cadets, Stockport Unit, Greater Manchester Police'
  • County name: Greater Manchester
  • Group/School name: Stockport Cadets
  • Age group: 11+
  • Group type: Youth Group

During 2020-21 the Volunteer Police Cadets, which empowers its young volunteer cadets to lead on social action projects, worked on an initiative looking at heritage and preventing heritage crime. This was with the support and a grant from Historic England, input from Young Voices Heard which specialises in youth social action. The programme  referenced the many types of war memorials as part of our heritage and Police Cadet units annually join other uniformed groups in an annual march past or attendance at Remembrance Day events.

As with so many projects Covid-19 impacted the proposed initiatives, and the result was a far greater emphasis on online activity than anticipated. In the autumn of 2020, a ‘War memorial and remembrance’ challenge was developed. Cadets attending online meetings were briefed on the project encouraging them to research, undertake a condition survey on or design a war memorial. As most were able to visit a local war memorial as part of their daily exercise or as they travelled to and from school this acted in place of their normal role at Remembrance Services or events.

Materials from War Memorials Trust’s Learning website as well as the details for War Memorials Online were provided as part of information packs. Alongside this was material from Historic England, some of which was developed with the Trust between 2014-19 as part of the First World War Memorials Programme demonstrating the ongoing value of that work.

Eighteen Cadet Units across England responded to the challenge to get involved including one in Stockport, Greater Manchester, which received a Certificate of Excellence for their social action. They all agreed to research and explore war memorials near to where they lived with a view to updating the War Memorials Trust website.  

The lower image above right shows some of the 16 new War Memorials Online records they added. They also uploaded photographs to 10 missing images and updated a further 10 with condition reports and/or comments.  

The Unit reported that, “it gave us a focus and a reason to get outside, go for some exercise; a walk, a run, a bike ride, to enjoy the fresh air and to find points of interest on our doorstep which we’ve seen but not properly taken notice of. It was something we did as a team and helped pull us together.” This demonstrates the mental health benefits of projects such as War Memorials Online which can get people engaged and active in outdoor projects.   

The Unit also highlighted how they got involved because they cared about their war memorials heritage, “We could not take part in the Remembrance Day parade this year, so this is a good way for us to continue to play our part and enable us to keep remembering people who served their country.”

 Cadets from other units that engaged with the programme were awarded training certificates and some individuals were awarded merit and excellence social action awards including one who visited seven of her local war memorials to produce a report on each as her challenge.

 Too often there is an assumption that young people are not aware of their war memorials. Programmes like this are vital to demonstrate that this is not the case. Engaging young people and supporting them as they discover more about our war memorials, the people commemorated and their role in our heritage ensures we are ensuring tomorrow’s custodians are equipped to protect and conserve war memorials in the years ahead.  

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