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.

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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.

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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.

Local Wickford student travels to parliament to ask MPs important questions before the general election

 

CAFOD supporter Kiera Harman, 17, travelled from Wickford to Westminster to speak with MPs in Parliament to ensure the interests of the world’s poorest people will be kept in mind during the upcoming general election.

On Monday 24 April, sixty supporters of CAFOD travelled from across the country to meet with MPs from different political parties at Speaker’s House in Parliament. Kiera Harman met with the politicians to speak about maintaining commitments to supporting people living in poverty through UK aid and action to tackle climate change.

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Young Leaders at Parliament showing their support for CAFOD’s new campaign

Speaking at the event, Kiera said: “It’s important to be here to talk to MPs so we can get them to understand the things that matter to us. I study government and politics at A-level and I’m really interested in politics, so this is a good opportunity to get more connected. I also want to ask my MP what he is doing about climate change. CAFOD is doing a lot of work in this area but I want to know what my MP’s party is doing.”

Commons Speaker the Rt Hon John Bercow MP told the reception:

“For my part, I always think the greatest moral challenge of our times is to try to do something about the gross crisis and disfiguring scar of global poverty. The fact that 1,000 million people around the world exist on less than a dollar a day and very large numbers of people besides exist on only moderately more than that is, frankly, a source not only of anxiety but of real shame to us all.”

Kiera is part of CAFOD’s Young Leadership programme, which offers training to help young campaigners become leaders in their local and global communities. Also at the Parliamentary reception were CAFOD ‘MP Correspondents’, supporters who write to MPs on international development issues such as the impact of climate change and trade practices.

CAFOD is encouraging Catholics to ask election candidates to support UK commitments on tackling poverty overseas and climate change, as well as working to ensure that Britain remains an outward-looking and welcoming nation.

Neil Thorns, CAFOD’s Director of Advocacy, said:

“It is so great to see local constituents raising their voices before the general election and making their local political representatives aware of issues that are important to them.

“Pope Francis himself warns that people living in poverty can often be an ‘afterthought’ in political discussions and that’s why it’s so important that we remind candidates of the need to remain an outward-looking nation – one that cares for the interests of people in the world’s poorest communities.

“This is why the commitment to maintaining UK support for overseas aid is crucial for saving lives and pulling people out of poverty.”

Kiera added she feels it’s important people get to grips with the details of what their parliamentary candidates are proposing. “I would encourage other people to make sure they read party manifestos, so they’re aware of the issues that will affect them,” she said.