Faith In Action Day Brentwood and East Anglia Dioceses

CAFOD in Brentwood’s Campaign Volunteer Coordinator, Angela Sparke, shares her reflections after our joint Faith in Action day with volunteers from the East Anglia Diocese at Clare Priory on 17th November. 

A group of 24 people involved in campaigning with CAFOD, joined together on 16th November, in the beautiful surroundings of Clare Priory, to explore the theme of ‘Love is Civic and Political -Our Faith and the Common Good’. The day was led by Sarah Croft, from CAFOD’s campaigns team, and during the day, Sarah engaged participants in a number of thought- provoking activities.

Clare Priory for chris
The peaceful surroundings of Clare Priory

Following an opening reflection and short liturgy, we were presented with a selection of values, and an interesting discussion followed as we each selected the ten values that we felt had most to contribute in endorsing the common good for society.

We then looked at the Bishop’s Conference document entitled ‘The Common Good’, and tried to link this with the key values we had just selected. Although written in 1996, a number of key themes quickly resonated with relation to the current political climate, for example the ‘willingness to see others as another self, and so regard injustices committed against another as no less serious than an injustice against oneself’. Many themes from the document were referred to throughout the day, and underpinned most discussions that took place.

A period of personal reflection followed, with the opportunity to read and evaluate two articles. The first, written by Dawn Foster for the Tablet, promoted a discussion focussed on how open we are about our faith, compared with our politics, and we shared our experiences of linking political views with our faith, and how this is received by others.

Tim Stanley, writing in the Guardian, stated that we should ‘engage with politics with no compromise’, and the groups discussed how easy this approach is to follow when campaigning, and engaging in dialogue with people holding very different views.

Lunch followed, and many people took the opportunity to explore the peaceful environment of the Priory, as well as finding out more about each other, and sharing experiences of campaigning.

After lunch, Sarah presented us with the experiences of five campaigners, from a variety of background, and ages. We heard about Leila Bousbaa, who took part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme, Cardinal Manning, who was instrumental in settling the London dock strike of 1889, and Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933.

We also discussed the work of Mother Cabrini,  an Italian-American Roman Catholic nun, who was a major support to Italian immigrants to the United States, and  Phil Kingston, an  octogenarian parishioner of Holy Family Catholic Church in Bristol and a member of Christian Climate Action. Phil has been arrested multiple times for non violent direct action, such as blocking the road outside the Palace of Westminster.

A practical session followed, discussing and sharing strategies to campaign effectively in a number of different ways, including how best to construct a letter to our local MP.

The day finished with a closing liturgy, and a return to the reflection on the link between our faith, and the Common Good.

We left with a sense of renewed affirmation in our role as campaigners, and our place in the vision outlined by Pope Francis in 2015, in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ that no one should be excluded from the gifts of creation.

Clare
Some of the participants in the Priory library

CAFOD volunteers support Harwich One World event

CAFOD volunteers were among hundreds of people attending an One World Week event last month to show solidarity with those concerned about the destructive consequences of climate change on the earth.

CAFOD stall
Chris with CAFOD volunteers Carolyn and David on the CAFOD stall

The theme for the event in Harwich was called ‘Climate changes everything – now is the time to act” was organised by Churches Together in Harwich, and brought together local groups and businesses with national charities such as CAFOD, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth and the Salvation Army.

Our parish volunteer in Harwich Carolyn Dobner was one of the organisers and was delighted that other CAFOD volunteers from Frinton and Colchester were able to support the event.

Despite the inclement weather on the day attendees were kept engaged and entertained throughout by a range of activities and events. There were local choirs, a steel drum workshop, snakes, storytellers, Morris Dancers and short plays by young people. One imaginative play was called ‘Planet Doctor’ and imagined Mrs Earth visiting a doctor for a diagnosis of her ailments in which the latter determines “Well, Mrs. Earth I don’t want to give you any false hopes. I have to say that you are suffering from an unsustainable growth in your human species. If your current human activity doesn’t change, I’m afraid your ailments could prove terminal for the balance of planetary life”.

People were invited to consider the devastating impact of climate change on our local and global communities through verse, drama and storytelling and urged to act. Our CAFOD volunteers spoke to guests about our campaigns work and the Our Common Home campaign in particular.

General election 2019: how the people of the Brentwood Diocese can help the world’s poorest people this election

With a week to go before the general election on Thursday 12 December, it is important voters raise issues important to them with local candidates. If you get the opportunity, here are some issues you can raise with your candidates to help speak up for the world’s poorest communities.

Aid

The aid budget is vital for tackling poverty. We need to ensure that it is focused on the needs of the world’s poorest people.

What can I say? “What will you, and your party, do to continue to tackle poverty overseas and to protect the quality of UK aid?”

CAFOD Niger 2

 Climate change

Thousands of CAFOD supporters from the Brentwood Diocese campaigned to persuade the government to set a new climate change target. Now, politicians need to act.

What can I say? “The government has set a net zero emissions target of 2050. Do you support this target and how will you, and your party, make tackling climate change a priority to prevent more people being pushed into poverty by the climate crisis?”

CAFOD Mass Lobby 2019 Time is now 04 Eleanor Church

Trade and migration

All trade deals negotiated after Brexit mustn’t harm the environment or poor communities – and migration rules must protect everyone’s dignity and rights.

What can I say? “How will you, and your party, ensure that Britain is an outward-looking, tolerant and welcoming nation in the years ahead?”

Rohingya crisis 3

 Poverty in England and Wales

Whilst CAFOD helps vulnerable communities overseas, our sister charity CSAN supports people struggling with poverty here in England and Wales.

What can I say? “How would you and your party contribute to the availability of housing and jobs that reduce poverty and build up local community ties?”

 

 How to get in touch with local election candidates 

  • In person – Parliamentary candidates and canvassers often go door to door. This is your chance to raise your voice.
  • By email or letter – Candidates wanting to become an MP are listed on the Electoral Commission.
  • Through the media – why not write a letter to your local newspaper or contact your local radio station
  • On social media – you can tweet your questions and concerns to candidates.
  • At election hustings – local hustings information will be listed in local newspapers, websites and on the Churches Together network.

How to vote

You can register to vote online. The gov.uk website offers instructions on how to register, including how to receive a postal vote.

When you’ve registered to vote, you will receive a polling card with information on which polling station you can vote at. You can also enter your postcode and find your polling station.