Focus on our Volunteers Part 1

As part of national volunteers week (see https://volunteersweek.org for details) and throughout the month of June we are going to be hearing from our hard working Instructors and Volunteers, hearing how they have been keeping Essex ACF going during the Pandemic and learning a little more about their civilian life, and how they have been helping us to stay safe in these past few months. Up first is a story about the UK Ventilator challenge.

2 June 2020

One of the SMI's in Essex ACF was working in a bank at the start of 2020, happy with the 9-5 and his evenings and weekends free for his cadet pursuits. In April of this year, like so many people he was told his job was in jeopardy due to the corona virus and then ultimately laid off. Finding himself at a loose end he read a story on the internet about an ex Cadet from Grays who had been making face mask for the NHS on his 3D printer. Inspired, this SMI wanted to know if there was anything he could do to help support the nation during this crisis.

After a search online, a job with the UK Ventilator challenge appealed. Drawing on Stem Skills gained in the ACF, he tackled the online application process. There he was met with a set of online questions that were somewhat reminiscent of the army ‘Barb’ Test he took back in the 90’s.

With the test complete, Ford Motors in Dagenham soon made contact to arrange for an interview and induction. Feeling confident despite the recent Job loss our Intrepid volunteer aced the interview and soon found himself undergoing intense training on the manufacturing techniques of a “Enlon Prima ESO2 device”. This life-saving device is normally manufactured in Manchester at a rate of 50 Units a week. But demand from the NHS for the Pandemic had resulted in a request from the government for 1500 a week! A huge undertaking, which is why the resources of the Dagenham Engine plant were sought after by the consortium.

Having been trained on the basic principles of how the Device works, training was received on Electric shock prevention before he joined the production line.

Armed with knowledge from an extensive ACF career, coupled with a military understanding of processes. He soon found himself in a vital role helping to maintain the 24/7 production of ventilators to meet the UK’s growing demand.

But how did this help the Cadets? It’s very clear that the Cadet Force had helped him. “Simply by having work, my day had structure again. After been unemployed (albeit for just a few weeks) this meant I was able to plan and manage my time to give my best efforts to my work in the Virtual ACF”. He further explained that his ACF role had changed to an almost 24/7, with the activities of Essex ACF going Virtual. He has found that shift working makes it easier to set up and attend zoom meetings. Although the 9-5 had served his cadet aspirations well during face to face training. This new job means he can fit the jigsaw of work and volunteer together better in Lockdown Britain. He went on to say “being a Key-worker is tough at times, it sometimes feels as though I am the only person going out especially when it is to walk the dog before work at 0430. But the support of my Cadet Family and seeing so many cadets showing support to key workers has spurred me on”.

We are fortunate to have a number of Key Workers amongst our volunteer ranks and we are immensely proud of everything all our instructors have done for the county and their communities in the last few months. We look forward to catching up with more of them over the next couple of weeks. To give you more of an insight into our volunteers lives during this usual time.