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Can serving members of the armed forces volunteer with the ACF?
Officers and NCOs in the Reserve may also serve in the ACF with the permission of their current commanding officer. (NB: You must be commissioned in both, or non-commissioned in both.)
Serving members of the Regular Armed Forces aren’t eligible to volunteer with us but can help out as a Service Helpers with permission from their Commanding Officer.
As a former officer can I transfer my commission when I join the ACF?
If you are a former officer in any of the armed services or cadet forces then you should apply to the ACF County Commandant for an interview when you look to join. Applicants who have previously served as commissioned officers, or who have already gained a pass at the Army Officer Selection Board (AOSB) or equivalent, are subject to confirmation by AOSB, normally without attending a Cadet Forces Commissioning Board.
NB: All new adult volunteers are taken through the familiarisation and assessment package, regardless of their experience. This will provide you with a proper insight into the ACF as a voluntary youth organisation and the role of an ACF adult volunteer. Your later training might vary, however, as ACF Commandants have the ability to waive some training modules for those with extensive military experience.
How old do I have to be to join as an adult volunteer?
Anyone over the age of 18 can apply to join the ACF as an adult volunteer.
The usual retirement age for adult volunteers is 60 but, in some cases, this can be extended to 65. There are no age restrictions at all for Civilian Assistants (non-uniformed roles).
Do I need previous military experience?
No you do not need any previous military experience to join as an adult volunteer, though we certainly welcome those that do. We will provide you with all the training you need. Whatever skills you have, you will be welcomed by the ACF. Many of our adult volunteers were cadets themselves at some stage, and some have served in the Armed Forces, but we also have many who joined with no previous military background at all.
Could I get called up for active service?
No - being part of the ACF doesn't mean having to join the Army.
What activities will I be involved in?
This depends on your role in the ACF, but activities include abseiling, trekking, first aid, sports, camping, music, competitive shooting, drill, fieldcraft and The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
Is the Army Cadet Force part of the Army?
No. The ACF is a national, voluntary youth organisation that is sponsored by the British Army but not part of it. The ACF operates under the same rank structure as the Army and undertakes a certain amount of military-themed training, but they are different organisations. No member of the ACF, either cadet or adult, is liable for military call-up.
What is the joining process?
Once you have completed the joining form on our website, you will be sent the contact details for your local ACF county HQ. (We have 1700 detachments the length and breadth of the UK, organised into 57 county groupings, each managed by a small headquarters). They will also receive an email letting them know that you are interested in possibly joining us. You will then normally be invited in to the county HQ for an interview. If you decide to go ahead, you will be taken through our familiarisation and assessment package over the next few weeks, which is designed to provide you with a proper insight into the organisation and the role of an ACF adult volunteer. During this time we will also take this time to assess your suitability to serve in a voluntary youth organisation.
If I’m ex-Army do I go through the same joining process?
Yes, all new adult volunteers are taken through the familiarisation and assessment package, regardless of their experience. This will provide you with a proper insight into the ACF as a voluntary youth organisation and the role of an ACF adult volunteer. Your later training might vary, however, as ACF Commandants have the ability to waive some training modules for those with extensive military experience.
Will being an adult volunteer in the ACF provide me with any qualifications?
We are able to offer our adult volunteers a range of valuable vocational qualifications through our relationship with the Cadet Vocational Qualifications Organisation (CVQO), right up to honours degree level.
How much time do I have to devote to the ACF?
Typically, one or two evenings a week at your local detachment and occasional weekends. Beyond that it is up to you how much time you want to give. Help is always welcomed on the annual camps (one or two weeks during the school summer holidays) and many consider this the highlight of the ACF year. We fully understand that all kinds of other commitments, such as family and work, can affect people's availability, so even if you can't commit to two evenings a week, we would still love to hear from you.
Will I be provided with a uniform?
On joining the Army Cadet Force you are issued with a uniform free of charge for the duration of your time with us, though you may be asked for a deposit.
Who should I ask to act as my referee to support my application?
When candidates apply to become an ACF volunteer they are asked to provide contact details for two personal referees who can confirm their suitability.
If you are in employment your referees could be your current or previous employers. Candidates who have recently been in full-time education and haven’t been in employment may want to choose a college tutor or teacher. (NB: Candidates who are former ACF cadets, who left the ACF less than three years ago and are applying to join the same ACF county do not need to provide a referee.)
If you find it difficult to identify two suitable referees please contact the Administrative Officer at the ACF County HQ handling your application. In some circumstances one referee may be sufficient.
Only one referee with links to the ACF is acceptable and please note that your referee/s:
• Must have known you for at least three years
• Must NOT be related to you by either marriage or birth
• Must NOT be in a personal relationship with you
• Must not live at the same address as you
• Must be over 25 years of age
In choosing suitable referees please refer to the following list of acceptable professionals.
• Director/Manager of a VAT registered Charity
• Officer of the armed services (active or retired)
• Airline pilot Director/Manager/Personnel Optician
• Articled clerk of a limited company
• Officer of a VAT registered company
• Paralegal (Certified or Qualified Paralegals, and Associate Members of the Institute of Paralegals
• Assurance agent of recognised company
• Driving instructor (approved)
• Bank/building society official
• Engineer or other professional (with professional qualifications)
• Person with honours (e.g.OBE, MBE etc.)
• Fire service official
• Insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
• Post Office official
• Justice of the Peace
• Police officer
• Legal secretary (members and fellows of the Institute of legal secretaries)
• President/Secretary of a recognised organisation
• Chairman/director of limited company
• Salvation Army officer
• Local government officer
• Social worker
• Manager/Personnel officer
• Member of Parliament
• Commissioner for oaths
• Member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces
• Councillor: local or county
• Merchant Navy officer
• Teacher, lecturer
• Civil servant
• Trade union officer
• Minister of a recognised religion
• Civil Servant (permanent)
• Valuers and auctioneers (fellow and associate members of the incorporated society)
• GP, Nurse (RN, SEN or holder of a BA in nursing), Dentist, Chemist or other health professional
Please note this list is not exhaustive – if in doubt please contact the Administrative Officer at the ACF County HQ handling your application.
Do you run checks on adult volunteers?
The safety of our young people is of paramount importance to us and the ACF has to check there is nothing that should bar you from working with children. Every adult volunteer is required to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (or its equivalent from Disclosure Scotland in Scotland or Access Northern Ireland in Northern Ireland) and is not left unsupervised with cadets until this is complete.
Can I still join if I have committed a minor offence?
Minor offences and petty crimes won’t necessarily prevent you joining. Every case is looked at individually.
What is annual camp?
Each year, ACF cadets are invited to join an Annual Camp and go away with other cadets in their ACF County for up to two weeks during the school holidays. For most cadets, Annual Camp is the highlight of their year with the ACF.
Each Annual Camp is different, but all cadets will get to learn new skills as well as put into practice some of the lessons they have learnt in detachments.
Can I get time off work to go to annual camp?
You should discuss this with your employer. Some employers have a policy of offering special leave to those undertaking voluntary activities. In other cases you would need to take the time out of your normal annual leave entitlement.
What ongoing training do I have to undertake?
Once you have enrolled as an adult volunteer with the ACF, you will follow some induction training. You will also be mentored by a more experienced adult volunteer through your early time with the organisation. After that you will have the opportunity to attend a wide range of further courses. Some of these will be of your own choosing as you decide what areas you wish to gain expertise in. This could be anything from mountain leadership to rifle shooting or from piping and drumming to public relations.
Do you have to have short hair?
It is not necessary to have short hair but if your hair falls below collar length it will need to be tied back for cadet activity.
Do you have to be a UK citizen to join the ACF as an adult volunteer?
You need to have resided in the UK for a minimum of three years, preferably immediately before your application. In some circumstances, particularly if you are of UK origin, a shorter period of residence may be accepted.