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Four little letters, two small numbers and one ‘giving’ message will make MIGHTY difference to a youngster’s life

February 17, 2014

31 01 14 TEXT sue 2THE message couldn’t be clearer  . . . one simple text could change a young person’s life forever.

Now everyone across the whole of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent can donate directly to fund an innovative countywide scheme that’s forging the nation’s good citizens of tomorrow.

Staffordshire’s Young Police Cadets Service launched last May and units are already flourishing in Cannock and Stafford with the county a third of the way towards recruiting a 180-strong force – aimed at strengthening links between the police and young people.

Businesses are being invited to back Staffordshire’s Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s scheme by becoming sponsors or patrons and individuals can also now make donations of £2, £5, £10 or any other amount by texting ‘CDET17 £2 (or another amount)’ to 70070.

As deputy police and crime commissioner , I’m delighted I’ve been tasked with leading the scheme.

Less than a year since the first unit was launched, the service has made a real difference to the lives of 60 young people.

I’ve heard several stories about how being a cadet has turned around a young person’s life – giving them confidence and a sense of purpose and responsibility.

People across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent can now make a positive difference to the lives of these and many more young people by simply texting a donation, however large or small.

The service is all about giving advantages to young people – some from challenging backgrounds – who through a positive and vibrant programme can learn how to become responsible citizens.

This is not about youngsters from elite and advantaged backgrounds. It’s about giving young people an opportunity to build character and a sense of civic duty, no matter what their challenges, giving them leadership skills and an understanding of what it is to be a good citizen.

I’m really looking forward to welcoming more young people into the service as it spreads across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent in 2014.

Assurances have been given that frontline policing money will not be redirected to fund the cadets’ scheme – so donations will be used for uniforms, equipment and transport for the youngsters.

The cadets are funded through the OPCC’s Corporate Social Responsibility Fund which is a registered charity and now has its own text message account on JustGiving, the leading web platform for charitable giving.

Chief constable Mike Cunningham said: “I am very proud of the young people who have joined the Staffordshire Police Cadets units in Stafford and Cannock. The dedication and commitment of those young people gives me confidence in the future.

“Every week they learn new skills and they are already making a fantastic contribution to their communities as well as gaining a real insight into our work.”

The service has already received a welcome boost from a Wolverhampton-based businesswoman.

Mel Riley, owner of a self-run counselling business, decided to donate £50 after seeing a funding appeal on Twitter.

She said: “I don’t think there are enough pastimes to engage children and teens and as a result they get bored, depressed and sometimes give up on having a future. It’s a story I hear way too often.

“I think we need to inspire and support our young people, rather than blame and judge them. When I spotted the plea on Twitter, I decided to answer it.”

In return for becoming a patron, businesses’ contributions are recognised through publicity, a framed certificate and other opportunities. Police Mutual became the inaugural patrons after paying for uniforms for cadets in the Stafford unit while Cannock Chase Council stepped in to assist at the Cannock unit’s launch.

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