Who are the ICF – and what are we all about?

The Independent Cadet Force (ICF) was formed during the days of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. In May 2020, a like-minded group of individuals with many years of cadet volunteering experience between them, decided to create a brand new cadet organisation. Utilising their own knowledge and experience, the Independent Cadet Force was born, with the sole aim of providing the most exciting and varied training programme possible to its cadets, with sports and adventurous training being at the heart of everything it does.

The majority of cadet organisations throughout the UK are sponsored by the MOD and their parent Services, but we saw a great benefit to forming a new independent cadet structure. Though other independent cadet units do exist around the UK, many or all of them operate using the backdrop of a branch of the UK armed forces. Our remit was to create a unit which mirrored elements of all branches of the armed forces (Tri-Services if you will), which would in turn, give our cadets a more rounded cadet experience. The advantage of doing this means that, as an organisation we are not limited in any way with the learning and activities we offer, and activities such as sailing, kayaking, gliding, shooting, climbing, hiking, music, and many others are all within reach, and are firmly placed in our yearly schedule.

Another area that we felt needed improvement, was that many cadet organisations spend a lot of time with their cadets in a classroom. While some theoretical aspects of a subject do have to be carried out in a classroom setting, we limit this as much as possible. We understand that children are put under a lot of pressure these days with regards to academia, therefore, we give our cadets the outlet to escape from the classroom and take part in more hands-on and active learning. This doesn’t mean that they’ll learn any less, it simply means that there is a lot less sitting and writing – and much more up and doing!

We accept new applications from girls and boys aged 8 to 18 years of age. Everybody who joins us starts as a ‘Recruit’ and will embark on a 6 weeks recruit training course, which is aimed to teach them the required basic skills and subsequently give them the best possible opportunity to be successful as a cadet. Once they have completed Recruit Training, they will then take part in our regular training programme and, with time and effort, will be able to progress through the ranks. No matter what the age or abilities of our cadets, every one of them will have the same opportunities, and will be encouraged to excel in all areas.

Our staff team members are all volunteers, and they take an active part for a variety of reasons. Some of them were cadets themselves in the past, and understand the benefits of being part of a cadet organisation. Others have gained their experience in the armed forces or have been a volunteer with other youth organisations. But, whatever their reasons for joining us, they are all highly valued members of our organisation and without them we could not operate. Every volunteer receives nationally recognised training in first aid and safeguarding to Level 1 standard. Additionally, they have all been vetted by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and hold a current Enhanced Level DBS Certificate, as required by law.

Though our organisation is all about fun and learning valuable life skills, the safety of our cadets and staff is our highest priority; therefore, the wellbeing of every cadet and staff member is put before any activity we carry out. We never put anyone in harms way, or into an uncomfortable situation. We are a family – supporting everyone within it, and helping one another along the way.