Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share why volunteering with CAFOD is important to them. One volunteer, Trevor Stockton, has been an active volunteer for more that 40 years in the Birmingham diocese. Here, he shares his inspiration for volunteering and tips for those wanting to get involved.
My volunteer work with CAFOD has been an important part of my life, especially my spiritual life, since the early 1970s. I was inspired by Pope Paul’s encyclical ‘Populorum Progressio’ and by Dom Helder Camara and his work in Brazil.
My whole working career was in social work and so my commitment to people who are disadvantaged was already active. So, parish involvement in Lent and Harvest Fast Days, and campaigns such as that against apartheid in South Africa were my starting points with CAFOD.
The establishment of our regional (diocesan) CAFOD office provided an important resource to the work I was doing and I eventually took on the role of CAFOD coordinator for Wolverhampton deanery involving parishes and schools in events such as deanery Lent and Harvest Fast Day Masses, providing a link on all things CAFOD.
I am a CAFOD schools volunteer; a very good way of bringing the work of CAFOD and its partners to the active attention of school staff, parents and children/students. I usually lead a number of assemblies in schools during Lent and Harvest time and I always include a relevant song since children also learn through singing!
Getting young people involved is very important. Why not invite a young person to do the short talk at the Lent and Harvest Fast Days? People seem to listen more intently when a young person speaks!
Recently my work has developed into a diocesan CAFOD role in prayer/reflections and song writing on current issues on which CAFOD is focusing. I am an MP correspondent and was at the Climate Change rally June 2015 in Westminster meeting with MP’s. I wrote a climate change song which I managed to get our local MP’s to sing with me. MP correspondents write to their MP’s a few times a year on current CAFOD issues. CAFOD offer support to people undertaking this role.
One of the biggest impacts on me has been the developing theme of integrating our care of people and care of the environment. The CAFOD livesimply challenge (live simply, live sustainably, live in solidarity) and now the climate change campaign bring home our interdependency with each other and with the environment. As Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si’, we must care for each other and be good stewards of the planet God gave us.
Volunteering with CAFOD doesn’t have to involve a vast amount of time. It depends on each person’s individual circumstances. Start with something that inspires you. It may be a prayer, a scripture reading, a document such as Laudato Si’, TV coverage of the plight of people in and fleeing from the violence in Syria. You may wish or need to limit your time commitment or develop it. Working with others locally or on a diocesan basis helps to inspire, encourage and support what you do. I find our diocesan staff and volunteer team a great invigorator.
Ready to join the volunteer team? Sign up today!