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.

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.

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.”