St. John Ambulance is the nation’s leading first-aid charity and helps to save thousands of lives annually by providing first-aid training and event coverage. Unbeknownst to many people, however, is that they have a small community right in the heart of Streatham: the St. John Ambulance Streatham and Tulse Hill Young People’s Unit. Through this unit, I have volunteered as a St John Ambulance Cadet for the best part of three years.

The Streatham St. John Ambulance cadets have been deeply ingrained in Streatham’s community for many decades, keeping a presence at the likes of local Armistice Day ceremonies, school fêtes, and street parties.

On a regular basis we hold a session once a week where young people are given the opportunity to socialise, meet new people and participate in the Grand Prior Award Scheme—an award that allows young people to recieve education in subjects ranging from food hygiene to communication skills with deaf and blind people. These sessions are frequently hosted by guest speakers from other charities (recently we have had talks given by volunteers from charities such as Alzheimers UK and the MS Foundation). Young people within the unit are also often given the opportunity to present, allowing them to develop their confidence and stop others getting bored of hearing the same voice every week!

Through St. John Ambulance, I have had loads of opportunities that I would never have had otherwise; not even through school. I have marched alongside a float at the Lord Mayor’s Show as well as having entry to private Fireworks Night shows. I spoke to Ajay, another Streatham cadet, who said, “I attended Leadership 1, a course in leadership skills, and made loads of friends.I also learnt so much!” All courses cadets attend are paid for by the organisation, showing the pure gratuitous nature of the charity.

There are many ways to get involved with the charity. Volunteering doesn’t have to be limited to just providing first-aid coverage at an event. You can assist with human resources, help fundraise or even become a youth leader and help run a cadet unit like the one in Streatham. Children between the ages of 7-10 can become a Badger, which prepares them for being a cadet. Young people between 11-18 can become cadets, who have mostly similar opportunities as adult volunteers (but with a few age restrictions). If you can’t make time to volunteer, you can make a donation or help fundraise!

There is bound to be a St. John Ambulance Unit near you, and all are as great as the Streatham and Tulse Hill Young People’s Unit. If you are interested in volunteering or making a donation, visit their website at and you could be the difference between a life lost and a life saved.