Applications for Step into the Gap 2017 are now open. Ever wondered what life is like for a gapper? Read on to find out! Katy was part of last year’s team, based at St Mary’s Academy in Lancaster.
In October 2015 I wrote a blog about how I was feeling starting the CAFOD gap year. I was excited, nervous and ready for a unique experience. I got it.
In the last week of August I moved up to Blackpool, into St John Vianney’s Presbytery to start my gap year at St Mary’s Catholic Academy. We lived with the Parish priest, Fr Peter, and it quickly became home away from home. I lived there with Peter and Michelle, the second gapper at St Mary’s, and we had so much fun! Living in the parish we got to socialise and become a part of the parish, they were all so welcoming and lovely.
Michelle and I were based in St Mary’s Catholic Academy’s chaplaincy team. The team were so supportive throughout the whole year and there was always a positive atmosphere! For both Michelle and I coming straight from college and now being on the other side of the fence, the staff side (eeep), the whole idea of it at first was very daunting. Honestly, we had no clue what we were doing. That sense very quickly disappeared. Within the first few weeks we were beginning to feel comfortable and loved working with the young people, going into classes, talking to them and getting to know them. The team was useful in helping us plan classes and workshops we would run in the academy and other schools, and would occasionally be our guinea pigs. Each day would hold something different, there would be mass prep during the week to prepare a class for their class mass and the team would run a Fairtrade stall every break time.
Every Tuesday we would go to the CAFOD office to see Patrick and get a chance to organise our upcoming CAFOD events outside of St Mary’s. Patrick was amazing giving help and advice and always being on the other end of the phone when we needed him and ready to make you a brew when you walked into the office. An important member of gap year was also Sister Anne, a member of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When Michelle and I started, she made us feel welcome and was always there supporting us during the year. She was a big part of our year, being someone to talk to and meet up with.
One of the biggest privileges and highlights of the year was having the opportunity to visit a country where CAFOD is working. I went to Zimbabwe in January along with three other CAFOD gappers and an accompanier. The entire trip and experience was amazing. We visited the different CAFOD partners in the country and got to see the wonderful work being done.
After my year with CAFOD I began my degree at the University of Bradford where I study International Relations and Security Studies and hope to work with NGO’s and governments in the future. It is very easy to say that before the gap year I was still unsure about even going to university, however after my experiences it solidified what I wanted to do.
Honestly, if you are thinking about taking a gap year, do it! It’s a great experience to have and you gain amazing friends, skills and memories along the way.