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

Rhubarb and beetroot soup on the menu for Chelmsford parishioners

A Chelmsford parish have raised over £1000 by coming together and eating simply, in a bid to help the millions who face starvation in East Africa.

Across March and April, parishioners from Blessed Sacrament have hosted a series of Soup Lunches. Around 20 people have attended each lunch and all have enjoyed the delicious homemade soups on offer, the most unusual flavour this year being rhubarb and beetroot! A raffle is also taking place, with prizes of theatre tickets, afternoon tea and an Easter egg hamper.

Blessed Sacrament Chelmsford - Soup Lunch 1

Parishioners enjoy one of the delicious soups offered throughout Lent at Blessed Sacrament

CAFOD volunteer and co-organiser Eileen Webster said:

“We see lunches as a way of building community, giving older people a chance to socialise, having a friendly and enjoyable few hours as well as helping those in need.  It’s a way of doing something positive and living our faith.”

Blessed Sacrament have been holding Soup Lunches during Lent for the past 20 years but this year they decided the money raised should specifically go to CAFOD’s East Africa appeal.  Their decision reflects a wider feeling across the country – the response from communities across the UK has been incredible. In the space of one week, supporters of CAFOD, have raised over £1 million for the East Africa Crisis Appeal, meaning that vital aid is reaching the most vulnerable families.

In East Africa, there are currently over 16 million people in need of urgent food and other life-saving assistance.  Despite the challenges, CAFOD makes sure that aid reaches the families who are most in need, through the network of trusted local organisations which CAFOD works with in South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Chris Bain, CAFOD’s Director, said:

“We would like to say a huge thanks to supporters in the Catholic community in England and Wales who once again have given generously, coming together to help communities affected by drought and conflict. Across England and Wales, our supporters have been giving whatever they can; as individuals, schools and parishes.”

“The generosity of the British population as a whole has also been heart-warming. CAFOD is a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), whose East Africa Crisis Appeal has raised over £42 million.”



Event: Talk and discussion on how we can respond to the Pope’s call to support refugees.

Join us at Brentwood Cathedral Parish Hall on Monday 8 May (8pm) for a CAFOD talk on “Migrants and refugees – our brothers and sisters. An update on CAFOD’s response to the Refugee Crisis” followed by ‘How can I help refugees?: discussion and reflection on how we can help in our parishes and communities.

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Last year CAFOD’s World News Officer, Laura Ouseley, travelled to the village of Idomeni on the border of Greece and Macedonia. She visited the huge makeshift refugee camp to meet the men, women and children who live there, as well as volunteers and CAFOD partners. Laura will be talking about her visit and updating us on the work that CAFOD’s partners are doing in Lebanon, Jordan and Greece. 

‘How can I help refugees?’

Watching the plight of refugees from war-stricken countries, such as Syria, can often leave us feeling helpless and asking ourselves questions such as “How can I help?”, “Could I help welcome and support a refugee family in my community?”. If you are interested in working out answers to these questions, please come along and share your thoughts.

Pope Francis called upon parishes to play their part supporting refugees. This is your opportunity to respond to that call.

If you are interested in finding out more please contact Brenda Underwood