Why I volunteer with young people - a generation of life savers
amongst record levels of youth crime
St John Ambulance Youth Leader, Matt Atkinson, talks about why
he volunteers as part of our youth team.
‘There's no escaping media reports about the increased levels of
knife crime hitting the streets of our capital. Children and
teenagers are behind half of London knife crime, according to the
Metropolitan Police’s latest figures.* Amongst the constant stream
of media attention, you wouldn't be blamed for overlooking an
extraordinary group of young people.
These young people come together each week from a diverse range
of backgrounds and are working, as best they can, to try and help
combat the sea of knife crime around them. We shouldn't be ignoring
them – we should be championing them.
I am a volunteer with St John Ambulance. Each week, I work with
groups of these young people, (known as Badgers and Cadets), across
some of the poorest boroughs in the country. This includes Newham,
Hackney, and Tower Hamlets.
Each week, I'm enamoured at how incredible and versatile
they all are. They are not at all the picture of fear and violence
that is being so readily painted.
From the age of seven, some of the children and teenagers I work
with have been learning life saving first aid skills. Everything
from treating a small cut to giving CPR in the event of a cardiac
The importance of learning first aid skills has never been so
apparent, with the recent rise in knife crime. It's no wonder I'm
asked regularly by parents whether their child is going to learn
how to deal with knife wounds, what to do in an acid attack, and
more recently, what to do in the event of a gunshot wound.
Amazingly, despite everything else they have to contend with –
school, crime, the simple but yet complex process of growing up –
my Cadets are not content with just learning first aid in case they
need it. They volunteer in their communities, keeping the public
safe at local events, and some even share their skills with other
youth groups, schools, and organisations. How awesome is that? I
feel nothing but admiration and respect for their constant
motivation to share skills and positivity, learn about each other,
and ultimately become pillars of their community.
I youth lead for St John Ambulance to support a pool of
adaptable, skilled, and talented young people who are embedded in
their communities and are able to step forward in the moments that
really matter. They really will be the difference between a life
lost and a life saved.’
Standard, 4 February 2019