Here Squadron Leader Mike Wadsworth of North Region ATC answers some of your questions…
Adult volunteers play a vital role in all aspects of cadet life, whether organising activities, encouraging and educating cadets or just helping the squadron run smoothly.
You should find all the information you need about getting involved in this section, but here are some of the main questions that people have when they are considering a volunteer role with Air Cadets:
Can anyone be a volunteer?
We welcome all responsible adults (aged 20 years upwards), of any gender, from all social backgrounds, cultures and religions. You don't need to have any prior military experience, just enthusiasm and commitment.
I have a full time job / home to run / children. How can I spare the time for voluntary work?
Most of our volunteers have busy lives too, and many of them work full time. Most activities take place in the evenings and at weekends, and no-one's expected to take part in everything. Many people get involved initially because their children are cadets - they start off helping out informally at events and open days. As long as you can spare a few hours a week, you'll be made very welcome.
It sounds very energetic. Do I need to be really fit?
We like our volunteers to be reasonably fit so they can join in the physical activities, but other qualities are equally important. We need people who can deal with paperwork and homesick cadets at camp just as much as someone who can hike across the hills with them.
I'm retired but I'd enjoy working with youngsters. Is there an age limit?
There is no upper age limit as a civilian instructor, although uniformed officers retire at 55. Many of our volunteers are retired or semi-retired, which gives them more time to spend with us.
Do I need to have experience of working with children?
No, but you do need an understanding of the needs of teenagers. So if you are a parent with children or have had any contact with the children of friends or family, you will have some idea of what's required. Obviously, if you have any direct experience, such as teaching or sports training, you will have an advantage.
What happens if I join and then find it doesn't suit me?
This kind of work doesn't suit everyone, but when you join us you will be given every opportunity to find a role that you feel happy with. We are particularly keen to ensure that you are suited to and happy with your role, as your enthusiasm can directly impact on the cadets.
Will I need to have a police check?
Yes. Anyone who works with children must be willing to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (formally CRB) check. This is a legal requirement and can take about three months, so until it is complete you will not be able to take sole charge of cadets. You'll be training during this period anyway so your progress won't be affected.
Will I be paid?
You will be provided with all the necessary equipment for your role, including special clothing and uniform where applicable. As an officer or non-commissioned officer you can, however, claim for up to 28 days’ volunteer allowance. Don't forget, you'll experience many activities and training opportunities, all for free!
I'd like to meet new friends too. Is there a social side to it?
Yes! The civilian committee on each squadron will be busy organising all sorts of social events, some to raise funds for the cadets and some just for fun. Most people are surprised to find that as well as enjoying the work they make a lot of new friends and have a great social time when they join as an adult volunteer. Some have even found their future husbands and wives this way!
What will my unit be like?
Some squadrons are accommodated in their own premises, while others are located on RAF stations, in TA centres or in post-war Nissan huts. No matter where the accommodation is located it's the activities that count, and everyone knows they're second to none in Air Cadets.
I think I might be interested. What do I do now?
Get in touch with your local wing or squadron. They will tell you when and where they meet. You can just go along one evening and find out more on an informal basis, by talking to other volunteers and meeting some of the cadets. Everyone is really friendly and there to help you. You've got nothing to lose and everything to gain!