Tuesday October 18, 2022: MPs were taught lifesaving first aid skills by a team of St John Cadets, NHS Cadets and Young Responder from across England. The event, sponsored by Ruth Edwards MP, also helped raise awareness of the need to improve survival rates from cardiac arrests and other serious incidents as part of the Restart a Heart campaign.

St John Ambulance’s Director of Youth and Education, Paul Evans said: “We’re grateful to Ruth Edwards MP for hosting this very special celebration of 100 years of St John Ambulance’s incredible work with young people and delighted so many of her fellow MPs and their colleagues could attend. 

“From our first group of Cadets in Gateshead, back in 1922, St John has grown into a youth movement that spans the ages of 5 to 25 – from the first year of primary school through to the final year of university – and offers a range of opportunities; everything from teaching children how to dial 999 in a medical emergency to supporting students in their ambitions to become the next generation of doctors and nurses.

“As we expand our work with young people, our ambition is to support even more of them in becoming active health citizens in their communities. These efforts are made possible through partnerships with the NHS and others, including our generous donors and funders such as the People’s Postcode Lottery.

“It is tremendously helpful to enlist the support of politicians in understanding our mission and furthering our aims, and the fact our young volunteers have been able to share their lifesaving skills with them is a welcome bonus.”

St John Ambulance runs six youth programmes, including Badgers for those aged 5 to 11, NHS Cadets for 14-18-year-olds interested in finding out about a career in the health service, Cadets for 10-17-year-olds, and student volunteer groups at universities.

Minali Mihiripenna, from Croydon said: “I’ve been talking to different MPs and people in Parliament about the wonderful programme that is NHS Cadets, and what I do as an NHS Cadet.

“In NHS Cadets, the main focus is on building up our self-confidence, our university skills and our softer skills. So, one thing that we spent a lot of time doing was CV building, which is really useful because a lot of us in the programme want to become healthcare professionals and work within the NHS.” 

St John is currently piloting its Young Responder programme, a peer-to-peer programme to tackle physical and mental health in communities. 

Rebecca Edwards, from Dudley, said: “From being part of Young Responders, I’ve learned the communications skills to be able to teach young people around my age those vital first aid skills, such as mental health awareness, physical health and, more importantly, dealing with street violence and street crime, which usually we don’t get taught on the basic first aid programme. Today in Parliament we’ve been teaching basic first aid, using an AED, and the importance around how CPR can save a life”.

The two-hour first aid training session in the Jubilee Room saw MPs and their colleagues given opportunities to try cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other first aid skills.

And they also heard from senior leaders at St John, including Medical Director Dr Lynn Thomas, about the charity’s wider work as the nation’s ambulance auxiliary and around initiatives supporting community resilience, such as Public Access Trauma (PAcT) first aid kits.

Ruth Edwards MP for Rushcliffe said: I was delighted to host St John Ambulance in Parliament this week and to meet with some the charity’s inspirational operators and volunteers who provided CPR training to MPs and parliamentary staff to help raise awareness of the need to strengthen access to first aid training in parliament and access to lifesaving defibrillators as part of Restart a Heart Day.  

“In the UK, over 100,000 people die annually from a cardiac arrest. Access to defibrillators drastically improves your chances of survival. That is why I am campaigning on reducing the cost of and improving access to defibrillators and am thrilled that St John Ambulance are committed to working with me on this.”