One of the best events I have been to for some time took me to the home of Central Bedfordshire Council on Sunday.
In association with our Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis, Bedford Youth United has set up to bring voluntary young people’s groups together in partnership. This offshoot of a national organisation, Youth United, covers our local Army Cadets, Air Training Corps, Sea Cadets, St John Ambulance, Girlguiding, Scouts, Boys and Girls Brigade, Volunteer Police cadets and Fire Cadets. They were all there.
The aim is very simple – to make a noise about what’s out there for young people who want what those organisations can offer.
They give young people a sense of belonging, raise their self-esteem, help develop skills that make them more employable and enable them to contribute to the communities in which they live.
Their vision is that every young person has the opportunity to be a member of one of those organisations.
When you add these to other young people’s opportunities around the area, from sports, to music and the arts, and youth clubs, I hope people recognise the wealth of opportunity which exists in Bedfordshire. It should never be possible to hear that well known refrain ‘I’m bored – there’s nothing to do’ without some determined challenge – ‘oh yes there is!’
For any of this to be a success there needs to be leaders, adults prepared to step up to the challenge of accepting responsibility for the young. The groups mentioned are led by exceptional people, who I’m privileged to meet on a regular basis, and I am especially proud to be the President of the Biggleswade Sea Cadets. But more leaders are always needed to ensure our youngsters have the support to enable them to soar solo.
But we also need young people themselves to seize an opportunity. I’ve spoken many who think it was the best thing they ever did to join one of the groups above.
Could this be you, either a leader or member? You know you’ve been thinking about it – go for it!