St. John Ambulance’s Armagh Cadet Unit has launched a new appeal in its bid to find new premises to accommodate its ever-growing number of trainees, as training programs come to a halt.
The well-known association, whose main objective is first aid training and event coverage, has seen its activities come to a halt as the search for a new location is proving difficult.
Armagh Cadet Unit Leader Dr Michael Burney explains that the unit needs a place large enough to accommodate 50 cadets, as well as two separate meeting spaces for adults and badgers (5-10 year).
Michael said Armagh I that the unit has a total of 65 children, with 15 more on the waiting list.
“They knock on the door to see inside, but until we get to a suitable venue, none of the kids can train and people on the waiting list can’t be accepted,” Michael explains.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the cadets – who trained in Armagh 32 years ago – met at Appleby Social Education Center but as it is a Southern Health & Social Care Trust, the Covid health restrictions that were imposed meant they were unable to return.
The unit moved to a temporary space at Vibe Church in Armagh, which Michael said was “great”, but due to the unit’s strong growth over the past year, the space is become unsuited to their growing needs.
“We have started to recruit the youngest again, which we did not have last year, and our adults have also grown.
“Right now we have 15 badgers and 50 cadets, up from 30 before, so we have 20 more. We also have 20 adults so that’s a significant number.
Due to child protection rules, a space is required to accommodate these three age groups, with the possibility of meeting separately, as the age groups cannot be mixed. The unit also requires storage space, in order to house training manikins and other equipment.
The unit meets on Thursdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m., which is another factor that made it difficult to find a space, as other organizations were meeting at night.
“I had been looking for ages and we had a few leads that fell. Any location that can accommodate up to 100 people with three separate spaces and storage space would be ideal,” added Michael.
The main concern with the lack of meeting space is that cadets cannot take the essential first aid training that can be used to help so many people.
“At the moment, we cannot meet for our training. Our staff would have been prepared for the year but obviously this is all going to be pushed back now.
“Our young people and our adults have to go back in September, so we will postpone that to October now to give us more time to organize ourselves somewhere.
“We can’t meet without space, which means all the much-needed training can’t happen equally well for young people and adults,” adds Michael.
Readers who know of a suitable location for the unit should contact Michael at [email protected]
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