“Being a schools volunteer for CAFOD is a positive experience”

Angela Pavitt is a schools volunteer in the Brentwood Diocese who has been visiting schools for almost a year. Here she reflects on her first year and describes why she thinks it is important for children and young people in schools to hear about CAFOD’s work.

Angela Pavitt croppedWhat is your background and why did you decide to become a schools volunteer for CAFOD?

I was a primary school teacher and therefore familiar with the school environment, although you don’t need to have that classroom experience to be a schools volunteer. There was an advert in our parish newsletter requesting volunteers and it coincided with the death of a close friend, who had worked in Africa most of his priestly life, so I decided to apply to be a volunteer in his memory.

ST PATRICK 1What are the things you enjoy about the role?

I really enjoy going into different schools and engaging with staff and children. I have always been warmly welcomed and there are usually very helpful Year 6 pupils on hand to ensure the technology works!

I hope to be doing workshops in schools next year and look forward to this different type of engagement with schools.

As I’ve become more familiar with the work of CAFOD, I’m completely committed to its ethos and working practice. I subscribe to CAFOD’s staying power in countries where change takes time but gradually becomes effective. Their advertising is positive.

Schools volunteers briefing 19-1-17

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

What do you think are the challenging parts of the role?

Using the technology would be my greatest challenge! I have only presented assemblies so far and the challenging part for me is learning the script well enough so as not to need it for the presentation. It can take quite a time to be fully up to speed with the script content.

I feel it is important to move away from behind a script to be closer to the children and so help them to gain more information about CAFOD’s work worldwide. The children are usually ready to participate in any interactive opportunity and it really holds their attention if they are asked to recall information.

Why do you think it is important for CAFOD to be doing this work in the schools?Peter at All Saints Dagenham

I believe it is essential for children to be aware of others who live in poverty because they can make a difference through fundraising, prayer and spreading awareness of the work of CAFOD and will also know how they experience the gifts they enjoy in their lives.


St Helen's, Brentwood 2What advice would you give to anyone considering volunteering in schools on behalf of CAFOD?

Being a schools volunteer for CAFOD is a positive experience.

I would say that learning the script or background to the presentation is essential and engaging with the children is productive because they want to show what they know or have learned from the presentation.

Preparation  is key to a successful visit. Schools are busy places so it’s important to arrive with time to set up and then leave promptly.

Find out more

Are you interested in being a schools volunteer on behalf of CAFOD? Contact your local volunteer centre in Brentwood at brentwood@cafod.org.uk or call 01277 218730 for more information.

Not our cup of tea: Woodford Green parishioners call on Sainsbury’s to reconsider Fairtrade move

A group of locals from Woodford Green have called on Sainsbury’s to reconsider its plan to drop the Fairtrade mark from its Red and Gold Label tea. Along with 150,000 others across the country, parishioners David Underwood and Peter Sherlock at St. Thomas of Canterbury got 183 parishioners and friends to sign the petition locally, which was then emailed to the local Sainsbury’s store manager in South Woodford and to the company’s CEO. Sainsbury’s in nearby Loughton had previously been very supportive of the parish’s Fairtrade efforts, for example by kindly donating Fairtrade bananas for Fairtrade fortnight.

The parish was confirmed as a Fairtrade parish in March 2009 and has since been a great proponent of Fairtrade. Upon hearing of the parish’s commitment to Fairtrade, the Waitrose branch in Buckhurst Hill very generously donated Fairtrade tea and coffee for refreshments served after Sunday masses in the parish – and has more recently renewed its support after recently restating its own commitment to the Fairtrade mark. Fairtrade tea and coffee are provided free of charge after services at the church and any donations received from parishioners are given to charity.

10am Fairtrade tea rota team (002)

Members of the 10am Mass Fairtrade tea team at St Thomas of Canterbury in South Woodford

David Underwood, who led the parish’s campaign, said: “Tea can be powerful. Every Fairtrade cuppa makes a difference to the lives of tea farmers and workers in some of the world’s poorest communities. We believe Sainsbury’s are weakening this power by ditching the Fairtrade Mark from their own-brand tea and replacing it with a ‘Fairly Traded’ label. It’s very likely to mislead customers who may think ‘Fairly Traded’ is the same as independent Fairtrade certification. It’s not. And many of our parishioners and friends as customers of Sainsbury’s clearly wanted to let them know how they feel.”

The parishioners’ outcries were sparked by Sainsbury’s announcement in May that it was to replace Fairtrade certification with its own ‘Fairly Traded’ scheme for its Red and Gold Label tea.

While Sainsbury’s has said its scheme will mimic Fairtrade in providing a fair price for goods and an additional social premium, under ‘Fairly Traded’ farmers and producers lose direct control of the additional money raised from their products and decisions on funding are taken instead by a board established by Sainsbury’s in the UK.

Groups including CAFOD, Christian Aid and the National Union of Students (NUS) are calling on chief executive Mike Coupe to rethink the supermarket’s plans.


The petition to the local Sainsbury’s in Woodford made the front page in the local press!

Since the retailer made its announcement, over 150,000 people have signed a petition calling for Sainsbury’s to rethink its decision, with nearly 40 MPs backing a parliamentary motion calling on supermarkets to support Fairtrade in the face of Sainsbury’s move.

Fairtrade tea sales globally are worth an estimated £5 million in Fairtrade premiums for certified farmers and workers. British tea drinkers account for 80% of Fairtrade tea sales globally, with Sainsbury’s the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade products.

Chris Driscoll, CAFOD’s representative in Woodford Green, said:

“We’re very thankful to the parishioners from St. Thomas of Canterbury for showing their local Sainsbury’s that they care about keeping Fairtrade.  If this was parliament, then over 100,000 people signing a petition would be enough to secure a debate on what Sainsbury’s is doing.

“The Fairtrade mark is widely recognised, hugely trusted and we want to see it back on Sainsbury’s own-brand tea.  Hopefully the acts of David and other parishioners will help Sainsbury’s come to that decision too!”

Ficamaua! A young person reflects…

Chris Burkette is a young person from the Brentwood Diocese who is currently on CAFOD’s Step into the GAP programme. He writes:Chris cropped

“I recently ran a CAFOD workshop to help inform young people within the Brentwood Diocese of the events unfolding in the Maua community. As part of this workshop they were required to build a ‘home’ anywhere on the retreat site, to be as welcoming and cosy as they saw fit. After having visited each home, I was then tasked with destroying this space and leaving an eviction notice for them. Together we learnt about how this was connected to the situation in Sao Paulo: a place once left in need of rejuvenation but now blossoming…this all thanks to the locals there who over the past decade have put such hard work into returning the place to its original beauty.

Youth gather Mersea Island 2

Ficamaua! Brentwood youth gather to show their support for residents in the Maua community in Sau Paulo, Brazil

Until recently all of this was being threatened due to a court order to evict the 237 families from their homes at the end of November. To our great joy this eviction has been averted with the recent agreement between the housing department and the owner of the building for the purchase of the Maua building for around £4.6 million (20 million reais).

CAFOD believes that everyone has the power within them to stand up to such cases of injustice. CAFOD ask people to GAP: Give. Act. Pray. An amazing 4,000 people across England and Wales have signed the petition to demonstrate their solidarity with the people of the Maua community in Sao Paulo. We will continue to show our solidarity through our actions and prayers as we do in all cases of injustice and threats to human dignity.

Pope Francis; a shining example of someone who believes in and leads a life of generous giving reminds us “We should always remember the dignity and rights of those who work, condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and help to ensure authentic progress by man and society.” I relate this to the hard work the residents have put into renovating their community. I believe that it is our duty to demonstrate our belief in their dignity through not only kind acts but through responding to this eviction order.

Facu Mau sign (002)I personally believe that it can be very difficult in the world today to know exactly when we should show signs of love to others around us due to fear of being manipulated or taken advantage of. To show love to others is to take a rather bold step; one of which a large amount of Faith is required to achieve”.