Celebrating our schools volunteers

This week is National Volunteers’ Week, and so we’d like to affirm and celebrate the contribution of our wonderful schools volunteers…

CAFOD Brentwood has a dedicated team of 14 volunteers who visit schools across the diocese to deliver assemblies and workshops in order to raise awareness about social justice and CAFOD’s work. From an early age, children and young people have a keen sense of justice. School volunteers inform and inspire them, helping them to turn their passion for justice into real action. With school volunteers’ input, they learn to care for their global sisters and brothers, both now and as they grow up.

Our talented schools volunteers come from a range of backgrounds including IT, social work, teaching, project management, nursing, construction, the civil service, and administration. Some are retired while others are in paid employment and they all share a passion for communicating  our work and issues of poverty and social justice to children and young people.

Schools volunteers briefing 19-1-17

Our team of schools volunteers at a briefing on the assemblies and workshops we offer to schools

In 2016/17 our team visited over 70% of schools in the diocese, that’s 64 primary and secondary schools. And during this time they delivered over 110 assemblies and workshops. 42% of schools were visited during the Lent term alone.

As well as raising awareness of poverty and social injustice among children and young people, our schools volunteers have helped schools across the diocese raise over £53,000 for CAFOD during 2016/17.

We greatly appreciate the the work of our schools volunteers Peter, Linda, Hans, John, Cynthia, Alice, Angela, Denis, Cathy, Jan, Brenda, Breda, Mark and Hilary. Thank you all!

Volunteering in schools: Inspiring the younger generation

Since 2009, when he first became a schools volunteer, Peter Jones has made over 215 visits to primary and secondary schools in his local area to deliver assemblies and workshops on behalf of CAFOD.

Peter, why did you want to become a schools volunter for CAFOD?

Having retired from HM Customs and Excise, I wanted to work more actively for a charity that I support. As a long-time member of the St Vincent de Paul Society, I have a strong interest in alleviating and eradicating poverty suffered by those at home and overseas.  I had experience of speaking in schools about the work of HM Customs & Excise and felt that I could use this experience to engage young people with themes of social justice and poverty.

St Ursula's Harvest assembly resized

How did you become a schools volunteer?

I responded to a request by CAFOD in a parish newsletter inviting people to volunteer to talk in schools about CAFOD’s work around the world. There was a short application form to fill in and I was required to have a DBS check as the role would be working with young people and children. I also attended an ‘Understanding CAFOD’ course in which we were provided with an overview of CAFOD’s work and how as an organisation it works with partners and volunteers. There were also 2 days of training on giving assemblies and workshops in schools and there was an opportunity to practice this with other volunteers. We were also encouraged to ‘shadow’ current schools volunteers so that we could see how it works in practice. This sounds a lot but it is done over a period of time and was actually very enjoyable!

Peter at All Saints Dagenham

What do you get out of being a schools volunteer?

I find it very rewarding to get feedback from pupils and teachers on what they have learnt from the sessions, especially when on subsequent visits to the school they remember what you told them maybe one or two years previously. It is also gratifying to hear from secondary school pupils how they remember the CAFOD presentations that they received in primary schools and to see how they are putting the lessons into practice in their teenage years with fundraising and social action. The challenge is to find how best to deliver the wonderful material that CAFOD provide to best suit the audience according to age, context and relevant curriculum links.

Sacred Heart cafod-cheque-Nov-2015-1024x768

Would you like to volunteer for CAFOD in schools? You can find our more information about being a volunteer with children and young people on CAFOD’s website.

You can also read about some of our other wonderful volunteers and how they inspire others to make a difference to the lives of millions of people across the world.

In support of refugees at home & overseas

On Monday 8 May Brentwood Cathedral Justice & Peace group organised a talk and discussion on how we can support refugees in our own communities and overseas. To provide an international development perspective, CAFOD’s World News Officer, Laura Ouseley, spoke about our work with refugees in Greece, Lebanon and Jordan.

Over 50 people from across the Brentwood Diocese attended to explore ways in which our parish and local communities can help make a difference to the lives of refugees.

Among the items discussed were suggestions for ways in which we can befriend refugees, offering temporary accommodation, how to support CAFOD’s refugee work and that of other charities in the UK, and the idea of sponsoring a family to live in the UK as part of the UK Government Community Sponsorship Scheme. More details on these ideas can be found here

It is hoped that the meeting is a catalyst for action. If you are interested in being part of a working group to take this initiative forward, or if you have any other ideas on how we can help refugees please contact Brenda Underwood from the Brentwood Cathedral Justice & Peace group at brendaund@gmail.com