Power to Be campaign spans the generations at Shoeburyness parish

Brian Fitzgerald, chair  of the ‘senior’ Justice and Peace team at St George and the English Martyrs, Shoeburyness, describes how CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign captured the imagination and support of people of a range of ages in the parish…

The parishioners of St George & the English Martyrs, Shoeburyness, listened spellbound to very distinct Power To Be presentations on the weekend of 30th September/1st October.

The parish has 2 Justice & Peace groups – A Youth group, aged from 11 to 17 years, and a Senior group, comprising mainly of Senior Citizens.  Following attendance at the National Justice & Peace Network meeting in Romero House in May the idea was hatched that the groups could utilise their differing  talents  to launch the campaign during the masses before the World Bank meetings  in October.

power to be 2

Members of the Youth J&P group at St George’s present the Power to Be campaign to parishioners

Our Parish Priest, Fr Brett, was typically enthusiastic to encourage participation from a range of lay people. (He was even more so when he realised that on the weekend in question he would be recovering from jet lag following a transatlantic flight).  Thus the idea became reality:

Every child has the power in them to achieve great things

The Youth group leaders combined with the Chair of the Senior group to edit a Powerpoint presentation ensuring that it retained the required impact.  The young members of the group were so enthusiastic that we were able to have different teams presenting at each of the 2 masses, a Youth Mass and a regular sung Mass, in St George`s church.

PTB St George's 2

Signed Power to Be action cards placed at the altar at St George’s

Meanwhile, it was decided that the Senior group would present the campaign at the Mass at the  Chapel of St Gregory in nearby Thorpe Bay. At this Mass we limited ourselves to a short talk, edited to include pertinent facts and figures, presented impeccably by our most senior member, Brigid Hogan, a sprightly 90 year old, and prayers of intercession.

Fr Brett reinforced the message behind the campaign with carefully chosen words of reflection at the end of each celebration and the reaction of those present was extremely positive with nearly 300 petition cards completed.

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.