WMPeople: Asim Janjua, Cadet Leader (and Digital Communications Officer, Corporate Communications)

 The day starts…

at 5:30am (snooze till 6.00am) and I drag myself to the gym for 6:30am. Two hours later, four Weetabix down while watching an episode of Brooklyn 99 or Friends and I’m at my desk in Corporate Comms for 9:30am.

I’m responsible for…

Birmingham East 1 as their deputy commander. We’re the first unit in Birmingham East and are based at Washwood Heath Academy. Currently we’re the biggest unit in Birmingham with up to 25 cadets and eight leaders. We’re looking to expand to 30 cadets by January 2020.

Asim Janjua
 Asim Janjua, Cadet Leader (and Digital Communications Officer, Corporate Communications)

I joined up…

because I’ve always been a volunteer. Since 16 I’ve done everything from mentoring to organising charity and music events. When I started my job at WMP I lost touch with my volunteering side. I saw the job come up to be a cadet leader and I had to apply.

What people might not know is…

how the cadets scheme works. There’s a misconception, in the past it used to be a direct recruitment tool. Now, it’s about inspiring and mentoring kids from vulnerable backgrounds – with the hope of improving their relationship with the police. Each unit is placed in an Impact Area and draws kids from the school and local area. As a cadet leader, you keep your cadets on track for success whatever they choose to do – some may even want to join WMP!

As a cadet leader…

I’ve been able to develop loads of skills. Just because you’re dealing with teenagers doesn’t mean your skills aren’t put to the test! From leadership to planning, conflict resolution to emotional awareness – I’ve really been able to push myself in all these areas.

I’ve also been given training in first aid, risk assessor, safeguarding, lesson planning and mental health awareness. All of this training has been provided through the Citizens in Policing (CiP) team. Their job is to run the Cadets scheme, open more units and recruit more cadets. They provide you with all the support you need and are always there if you need them.

The unit is…

fantastic, LOUD and filled with life. We laugh about this amongst ourselves as leaders as we’re sure we have the loudest unit in the force – it’s certainly noted when we’ve attended past force events! But we wouldn’t change it for the world - it’s great! It’s what makes our unit stand out and so unique. Each kid has a different story to tell.

I volunteered as a cadet leader because…

it sounds clichéd but I really want to be a good role model to young kids. I come from a single parent family and I must admit, growing up I did some daft stuff. I think it’s so important for kids to have positive role models and people that can motivate and inspire them. The majority of my unit is from a Muslim background. As a young, Muslim lad I hope I can relate to my group and be a good role model. At the very least give them something to smile about once a week!

My typical day…

depends on what type of session we have that week. Prep for the session usually starts earlier in the week. This can be anything from lesson plans, props, registers. On the day of my session I’ll go over what we’re covering and make sure there’s no gaps in my knowledge.

I aim to get to the school for 4.00pm and spend 30 minutes setting up. We start parade at 4.30pm sharp which we’ll ask a cadet to lead. By attending sessions and demonstrating they’ve put the learning material into practice, cadets can work their way up the ranks. We break the session up by doing team building games, discussion sessions and have guest speakers when we can.

My most memorable moment…

is probably my first session. A young cadet was an hour late. He had a valid reason, he apologised and sat down. Later in the session it dawned on me that after completing a full day of work he didn’t have to turn up to tonight’s session – but he did.

At the end of the session I pulled him aside and thanked him for attending. I told him that by turning up it tells me I can rely on you, trust you, and I value that. The look he gave me told me it’d been a while since someone told him that and it’s stuck with me since.

The worst part of the job…

is probably not being able to do enough for the kids. You want to help them as much as possible, but you have to remember that your role as a leader is only between 4:30-6:30pm. It can play on your mind when you know a Cadet is struggling with other areas of their life, with school, family or friends. It only makes you try harder as a leader to put on the best sessions for Cadets.

The best part of the job…

Is watching the Cadets progress and learn. The unit had no idea how to parade and march before. Now they’re improving each week and I was so proud to watch them put it into action at the Remembrance Parade in Birmingham last month (November).

I’ve got to add - it’s also been amazing creating new opportunities for cadets (and leaders) to take part in. Who at the age of 14 can say they’ve been a part of the biggest Birmingham Pride march to date? Been in a firearms vehicle? Stood shoulder to shoulder with officers on patrol? Watched petrol bombs chucked at crowds during a training exercise at RAF Cosford? Spoken on live TV? Seen the inner workings of the police – It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.

If I didn’t do this I’d…

be spending my Thursday evenings crying on my couch watching United desperately trying to progress into the knockout stages of the Europa League.

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We are recruiting cadet leaders across the force. Visit the application page to find out more and apply.

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