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.

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.

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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.”



Join us for one of our Lent Fast Day 2017 briefings

Learn more on how a fish the size of your thumb in Florence’s hands can become school books, a home and a future for her children. Share ideas with other volunteers about how you can raise awareness in your parish.

Join us for one of our Lent Fast Day briefings at:florence

Southend – Thursday 9 February from 7.30pm until 9pm at Sacred Heart Parish Hall, 418 Southchurch Road, SS1 2QB Register for this event

Brentwood – Saturday 11 February from 10.30pm until 12.30pm at Cathedral House, Ingrave Road, Brentwood CM15 8AT Register for this event

Brentwood – Wednesday 15 February from 10.30am  until 12.30pm at Cathedral House, Ingrave Road, Brentwood CM15 8AT Register for this event

Walthamstow – Wednesday 22 February from 7pm until 7.30pm followed by talk from CAFOD’s partner in Zambia, Sr Yvonne at Our Lady and St George, 132 Shernhall St, Walthamstow, E17 9HU. Register for this event

 Wanstead – Monday 27 February from 8pm until 9.30pm at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish hall,  51 Cambridge Park, Wanstead, E11 2PR Register for this event

For more information contact the CAFOD Brentwood volunteer centre at brentwood@cafod.org.uk or call 01277 218730.