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.

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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.

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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.

Congratulations to our young leaders!

Congratulations to all our young leaders who have now completed our Young Leadership programme this year.  Year 12 students from across the diocese travelled to CAFOD Head Office in London for their last session, to explore our campaigns work and celebrate everything they’ve achieved.  Thank you so much to all the students from our diocese including the Brentwood Ursuline, Holy Family Sixth Form in Walthamstow and Chelmsford Sixth Form College.


Young leaders from Brentwood, Southwark and Portsmouth dioceses together at a day of celebration at Romero House in April

During the last six months, six young people from our diocese have learnt about CAFOD’s vision, mission and values, explored different issues of social justice and received leadership training in communication skills, planning and project management.

In between the training sessions they’ve been putting their knowledge and skills into practice by organising fundraising activities, taking campaigning actions, delivering assemblies and encouraging others to learn more about CAFOD’s work.

The leaders have collectively reached out to thousands of people through their volunteering since the programme began.  Thank you all!


Brentwood’s young leaders promoting our campaign ‘Power to Be’ outside Southwark Cathedral

Here at CAFOD Brentwood, we try to log everything the young leaders do and they’ve carried out some great activities this year including fundraising by selling hotdogs, organising the signing of messages of hope for refugees and giving assemblies at school raising awareness of the refugee crisis.

Some of the young leaders have created their own Instagram page to raise awareness of CAFOD’s work. They have helped their schools raise thousands of pounds for the refugee crisis and our Lent Fast Day appeal.

Students had also volunteered at Flame, visited the Houses of Parliament and met their MPs, written articles for magazines and messages of hope to refugees.

As well as reflecting on their volunteering experience, the leaders explored CAFOD’s advocacy work and our new ‘Power to be’ campaign on the importance of local, renewable energy.

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Brentwood young leaders with a ‘Power to Be’ sun, with messages urging the world’s powers to do more for people in developing who lack access to renewable energy. 

They also looked at ways they can stay involved after their ‘graduation’, and how they can continue to make an impact in their communities, in solidarity with the communities we work with around the world.

It was a great day of celebration of all that the young leaders have achieved and all the time, energy and effort they’ve given to support CAFOD’s work.

Thank you so much to all the young people who’ve journeyed with us this year and our special thanks to all their teachers and staff who have supported them. We really appreciate all your help.  Already looking forward to next year!

Get inspiration and tools to help you take the lead in fighting for justice around the world.

New Hall celebrates 15 years of soup lunches for CAFOD

New Hall school in Boreham has held a school wide Soup Lunch to help turn little fish into Big Fish, as part of CAFOD’s annual Lent fundraising campaign.

Instead of eating as normal, on Friday 3rd March the whole school had a simpler lunch.  Baguettes and a variety of soups – from leek and potato to tomato – were served as the only option.  As a result, 800 students enjoyed the soup alongside 400 staff.  New Hall has been doing soup lunches for the last 15 years at least, making the annual event a firm part of school tradition.

New Hall Students supporting CAFOD

New Hall  students celebrate their Lent fundraising achievement in the school chapel

The school’s fundraiser raised over £500 and their efforts will help provide communities across the world with the means to feed their families, by helping families to receive training to set up their own small businesses, like fish farms. This will enable them to turn one fish into a whole business and provide them with an income to support their families.

Katherine O’Brien, New Hall’s lay chaplain, said of the fundraiser:

“We do this as a way of standing in solidarity with those around the world who are in need.  The students have a high awareness of global issues but something like a soup lunch is a good way of making us all stop and think.  It’s a simple act but it can really make a difference, and it’s a great way of putting Lent into action.”