Category Archives: CAFOD Birmingham

Side by Side Question Time: Do big demonstrations make a difference?

In the spring issue of Side by Side we’re asking:

“Thousands of people will join IF campaign rallies this summer. Do big demonstrations make a difference?”

Have you ever taken part in a demonstration? Do you think mass rallies are important or are they a waste of time? Does anyone really pay attention to them? Or does the sight of thousands of people coming together make a statement nothing else could match?

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Filed under CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, UK, Campaigning, Asia

Duo Amici Musicali – a musical evening for CAFOD

On Saturday evening September 22nd, we had a wonderful evening for CAFOD at St Joseph’s, Burntwood, in the Birmingham Archdiocese.

We were entertained by two professional musicians, a recently formed duo who performed a very varied range of music, with  Emma playing  the cello and Lizzie the  guitar.

Sitting in front of the altar in the chancel of our beautiful church, the duo inspired us with some sublime baroque pieces and lively works from Spain and Latin America.

Lizzie is a local girl who, from nine years, learned the guitar at St Joseph’s school and quickly developed a passion for music. She was encouraged by her very musical family who still lead us in our choral singing at Mass.

Emma comes from Hampshire and, like Lizzie, acquired her enthusiasm for music at school, learning the cello from 6 years.

The girls met at the Birmingham Conservatoire (the school of music at Birmingham  University).  Even to the untrained ear the extraordinarily high level of professionalism was evident. Both girls play professionally and also teach. They tell us they are available for future events!

We are so fortunate that they were willing to donate their time freely for CAFOD. The event raised £230. 00 –  a brilliant outcome!

By Mary Kane, CAFOD Key Volunteer

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Filed under CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, fundraising, UK

Margaret and Barry Mizen to bring stories of peace-building to Walsall

Peace ambassadors Margaret and Barry Mizen will be visiting Walsall in September to share stories of peace-building in the UK and Kenya.

Margaret and Barry’s son, Jimmy, was killed in south London in 2008, the morning after his sixteenth birthday.

Jimmy was the thirteenth London teenager to be killed that year, yet Margaret and Barry say: ‘We would like everyone to remember Jimmy and all those killed by violent crimes, not in anger, but with hope for the future.’ Since Jimmy’s death they have become peace ambassadors, working in schools, parishes, community groups and prisons to bring a message of hope, peace and reconciliation, rooted in faith.

Last year, Margaret and Barry travelled with CAFOD to Kenya where they exchanged experiences with CAFOD partners and young people who are challenging violence in the slums of Nairobi.

All are welcome to what promises to be an unforgettable evening as they share this amazing story.

Their talk will be at 7pm on Wednesday 26th September in the Parish Centre, St. Mary the Mount Catholic Church, Glebe Street, Walsall, WS1 3NF. Refreshments will be served. Please contact CAFOD Birmingham on 01922 722 944 or e-mail for more information.

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Filed under CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, Local CAFOD event, UK, Africa

Xtreme Fun in the Sun at Alton Castle

At the end of July, Amy Fox, CAFOD Diocesan Officer (Youth) and Emily Heaven, youth volunteer, were excited to be invited to take part in Xtreme Adventure, a brand new Catholic youth summer camp held at Alton Castle.

The camp, run in association with the Life Teen movement, was a unique opportunity for young people from across the Birmingham Archdiocese to come together to experience faith, fun and adventure.

We visited at the start of the week, on a morning of glorious sunshine after all the weeks of rain, and found the young people engrossed in a Bible study workshop on the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This was followed by two sessions of free time, during which the group could choose from a selection of activities and workshops, from arts and crafts to frisbee on the lawn.

An enthusiastic group gathered at the top of the Castle’s Discovery Centre for a trip around the world to some of the countries where CAFOD works. We got to know each other with a game of Jambo, one of CAFOD’s Sports Icebreakers, inspired by St. John’s Sports Society in the Kenyan slum of Korogocho. Next, a game of Global Connections got us thinking about the huge number of links between ourselves and people from different countries and cultures around the world.

The group then had the chance to take on the characters of young people living in some of the countries where CAFOD works, for the World Values Auction. The characters – from Kenya, Nigeria, Cambodia, Honduras and the UK – were each given a differing sum of money based on their country’s GDP and given an opportunity to bid for a selection of items – from seeds and agricultural tools to an MP3 player. For most of the characters, even basic essentials like access to clean water were hopelessly out of reach… but Jonathan from the UK found he was able to purchase everything he wanted (and some things he didn’t) at knock-down prices, while still having piles of notes left over.

For the second session, we moved outside into the sunshine and spread our hope mural, inspired by a peace mural created by the CAFOD-supported Association for the Victims of Violence in Colombia and begun at the Exult worship event, on the lawn. To the tune of Kenyan hip-hop exploring issues of peace and justice, a crowd of young people gathered round to add their own symbols of hope to the mural. Inspired by Matthew 5:16: ‘You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before others’, the young people thought about the things that gave them hope. One young person drew some musical notes and another painted a symbol of friendship. We hope the mural will continue to grow as more symbols of hope are added at future events.


Some of the symbols of hope on our giant mural.

We left just in time to avoid the giant mud fight which, we were told, was planned for the afternoon! We hope (and have no doubt) that the group continued to have an amazing, adventurous week that enabled them to grow in their faith and develop lasting friendships. Thank you to Anna Howard and BCYS for inviting us and being so welcoming.

If you’re a youth leader in the Birmingham Diocese and would like to inspire your young people to put their faith into action by engaging in global justice, we can provide advice, resources, training or even tailor-made sessions. Please get in touch with Amy on 01922 722944 or e-mail

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Filed under CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, greatgeneration, UK, youth action, Youth resources

Pass It On at Exult

The summer holidays got off to a prayerful start in the Birmingham Archdiocese with Exult, a brand new worship event organised by young people for young people and held at St Thomas Aquinas Catholic School in Birmingham.

Following a joyful, unifying morning of praise and worship, lunchtime came with an opportunity to pass messages of peace to those living in conflict by taking part in CAFOD’s Olympic solidarity action, Pass It On.

At the early Olympic Games, a 100-day truce was declared to enable atheletes to travel safely. Pass It On revives this tradition with a giant online relay, passing on messages of peace to people around the world who are living in conflict during 2012, and those who are working to bring peace to their communities.

These are people like César López from Colombia. César is a member of the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Reaction, a group of musicians and activists seeking alternatives to violence in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá. Using a guitar made from a modified AK47 gun, César heads out to the streets with his colleagues whenever there is violence in the city to play music about peace.

Young volunteer Joe on top of the world at Exult!

Pass It On involves being filmed moving from left to right as creatively as possible – and creativity was the word at Exult. There were somersaults, piggybacks – and one young person managed to fly past the camera in a single leap, worthy of an Olympic long jump. After making their films, the young people wrote messages of peace to be passed to CAFOD’s partners around the world who are working for an end to conflict in their communities. These were truly inspiring and included:

‘Peace to me is the freedom to listen to that small and still quiet voice and recognising my neighbour and their needs.’ – Adrian.

‘Keep going and living in hope because God is with you in all your work.’ – Ciara

‘Peace to me is the fountain of goodness, greatness and everything amazing!’ – John.

‘Don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top! If you are working through the love of God you can never fail!’ – Emily.

‘Peace to me is loving your neighbour and working to get along with everyone. It is being at one with yourself and the world around you.’ – Gemma.

The creative juices continued to flow as the young people designed symbols of hope to add to a giant mural, based on a peace mural created by the CAFOD-supported Association for the Victims of Violence in Colombia and inspired by Matthew 5:16: ‘You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before others.’ The Association for the Victims of Violence brings together people who have lost loves ones during the conflict in Colombia to help them express their grief and remember those who have died, as well as promoting peace and creating hope for the future. Symbols of hope for the young people at Exult included a beautiful sunset, a dove, candles, music, and images of the world.

After lunch, the young people retired to the chapel for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, accompanied by quieter, more reflective music. The day culminated in Mass celebrated by the Most Reverend Archbishop Bernard Longley, fresh from welcoming the Jamaican and US Olympic teams to Birmingham. His Grace confessed that, as soon as he heard about the event from the organisers, he knew Exult was where he wanted to be even if other pressures had ended up calling him elsewhere.

Exult was organised by a team of eight young people, many of whom have experience working at retreat centres like Soli House and Alton Castle. It was a brilliantly organised, inspiring event which is sure to go from strength to strength – if you live in the Birmingham Archdiocese and missed out, make sure you don’t make the same mistake next year!

Huge thanks to the team for inviting CAFOD to take part, and a massive thanks also to CAFOD volunteers Jack and Joe, without whom our participation would simply not have been possible.

Have you taken part in Pass It On yet? It’s simple and easy to do: film yourself or a friend moving from left to right, upload it at and add your message of peace.


Filed under CAFOD, CAFOD Birmingham, greatgeneration, youth action