“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.

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”.

A reflection on Peace

Chris Burkette, a young person who is currently on our Step into the Gap Programme, reflects on the personal and public fruits of peace. Step into the Gap, CAFOD’s gap year programme, is an opportunity to volunteer in the UK, gain experience, develop leadership skills and visit an international CAFOD partner. 

With widespread talk in the world today of war and conflict it can feel that World leaders hold ‘Peace’ furthest from their thoughts, but as Christians we too must instigate ‘Peace’ not just in public but everyday with each other.

CAFOD base their work within a mission of Peace to lend a helping hand to our worldly neighbours through working very closely with their partners abroad.  These partners act as Disciples of Christ, preaching hope and love to all.

CAFOD holds strong values aimed to maintain Peace, for instance through Compassion and Hope. Altogether there is a combination of 7 Values: Compassion, Solidarity, Hope, Partnership, Dignity, Justice and Stewardship.

I believe that Peace is an important part of having faith. It is something I have struggled with for some time in my own Faith journey. The struggle being the issue of finding that deep inner Peace within being myself and so being able to generate a radiant Peace to all others.  I used to think that inner ‘Peace’ was having everything in my personal life sorted but I have recently come to realise that it is quite the opposite.  We must first be able to love ourselves as the unique creations we are from God before appreciating those around us.

Youth gather Mersea Island

Finding Peace on Mersea Island at the recent BCYS Youth Gather

We learn from Jesus that all of the Commandments simply hinge upon love firstly of God then of love of neighbour. I believe a fruit of this love is Peace which we can build within us over time. Along with this fruit, the Holy Spirit gives us the Gift of Joy to accompany love!

On my placement within Brentwood I am so often awe-stricken from the encounters I experience with Young people; so many of which carry out acts of Kindness, often simple acts even as opening a door or listening to others around them. In these times I feel the need to help, encourage and nurture other people’s Faith along with my own. I am only able to do so by God working through these people on retreat. It’s at these times I feel my faith strengthened.

Youth gather Mersea Island 2

Young people at the Youth Gather event show their solidarity with the homeless families of the Maua Community

I’d end on the note that not only the Church needs Peace but also young people altogether, who need models of inspiration to demonstrate acts of Peace to one another. Now St John Paul ll refers to the young people of today as the Hope of the Church tomorrow – “In you young people there is hope, for you belong to the future, as the future belongs to you”. These words fill me with both a sense of Joy but feeling of responsibility for my future and the future of others I encounter.