Sergeant Instructor Jasdeep Lotay (22), volunteers at 45 Cadet Detachment in Romford, and works full-time as an administrator for a retail company. He credits the ACF with helping him understand and manage young people better.
Jasdeep only joined the ACF a little over a year ago and had very little knowledge about army cadets before then, but he's learned a lot in a short time.
“I wanted to join the Regular Army, at about 16, 17 years old, but because of some medical issues, I had to wait three or four years,” he says. It was when he was researching joining the Army, that he learned about the ACF.
“I didn’t even know cadets existed, I wasn’t a cadet before. I ended up just pressing ‘apply’ and next thing I knew, they asked me to come in for an interview.”
Do it - if you’ve got the time. Do it. At the end of the day, you’re helping kids. It’s a youth organisation. You get free qualifications that you can take back out to civvy street – what more could you want?
This year was his second annual camp, but it was a different experience to his first one.
"I didn’t really know what to do with them to be honest. It was an interesting camp because at that time I was on my intermediate induction course, so I wasn’t actually with the cadets much, I was still learning how to teach the cadets. So I was basically being a cadet myself to understand what it’s like to be in their boots.
"Now a year later, I’m here still loving it," he says. "It was a steep learning curve, going from knowing nothing to being thrown on drill. But they are really supportive, they do help you and if you are stuck, you can speak to someone. We all have a bit of a laugh, a joke here and there, a bit of banter – and that’s what it’s about, that’s what gets us through it."
Managing cadets has been an experience like no other for Jasdeep. "I’ve adapted to certain situations when it comes to managing young people. I didn’t think I’d had it in me. It has been tough, to be honest, but it’s been a really good experience. I’ve learned so much more in here, than I would’ve anywhere else. It’s different to see how a kid develops. After a year, you spend so much time with them, they mature so quickly – it’s quite nice to get that achievement and say, ‘when you first turned up, it wasn’t brilliant, but now you’re leaving, you’re excellent, you’re ready.'
"They look at us as role models, we’re all in a different environment here. They may not have that role model at school for instance, but when they come here they get quite emotional if they don’t pass something because they want to get that break, they want to get that purpose – they want to have something important."
Jasdeep is looking ahead to a career in the Army, possibly in 2017, but says he won’t cut off his links to the ACF any time soon.
"Do it - if you’ve got the time. Do it. At the end of the day, you’re helping kids. It’s a youth organisation. You get free qualifications that you can take back out to civvy street – what more could you want?"