CAFOD’s Summer of Hope aims to inspire children and young people, and their families, to recreate the events they will miss this summer, to have fun and to raise funds for our Coronavirus Appeal. Kathleen O’Brien describes how the Education team came up with the idea for Summer of Hope after lockdown began and schools closed.
As silence fell over our Education team’s desk area in March, we all moved to working from home and had to work out how we could support schools in their new ‘normal’. It was a steep learning curve! But, by the time most pupils were studying at home, we had weekly-themed home learning resources online.
Of course, most schools have remained open to the children of key workers throughout the crisis. Now they are carefully beginning to welcome back limited numbers of other pupils too, and pastoral care is uppermost in the minds of their dedicated teachers.
They know that many children and young people have been locked down in stressful home situations. Some have seen relatives falling sick or parents losing their jobs, and all have had to cope with the impact of isolation and uncertainty.
“All it takes is one good person to restore hope”
We pondered how we could offer support to the returning pupils and those still unable to meet with their friends in school, and offer them time to reflect on their experience, in the light of their faith.
Assemblies are a reliable part of the rhythm of school life – a comfortingly familiar space to listen, reflect and pray with others in the school community.
That’s why, last week, we held our first ever online national assembly, titled ‘Hope in the time of coronavirus’.
We wanted to inspire children and young people with a spirit of hope, reflecting on some of the positives of the last few months – people’s kindness and generosity, renewed awareness of the importance of family, friendship and community. We wanted to share stories from our global family as they too live through the pandemic. And we wanted children and young people to feel enabled to take action and make this a summer of hope for our sisters and brothers around the world.
As Pope Francis said: “All it takes is one good person to restore hope.”
Recreate at home the events you’ll miss this summer
In the assembly, we invited schools, and families at home, to recreate summer events they will miss because of the pandemic – to have fun while fundraising for our Coronavirus Appeal.
As the assembly premiered on YouTube, it was lovely to see images from around England and Wales of young people watching and praying together in classrooms, and to hear some of their responses.
Adanna, a Year 7 pupil, told us: “I have just finished watching this morning’s assembly on CAFOD and I was really inspired by all the ideas of hope as well as the hard work that CAFOD have continued to do all over the world. I just wanted to say a BIG THANK YOU for putting this idea together and for sharing it with us.”
Tochi from Brentwood said: “I watched the assembly based on how hope is contagious and about CAFOD. The assembly inspired my family and I to create a little leaflet on HOPE and how to believe in ourselves.”
Some communities have already started creating a Summer of Hope. Pupils from Our Lady of the Rosary in Manchester recreated their cancelled school trip by walking, running, and cycling the 2,000 km distance to Spain!
Here in the Education team, we hope that many other school communities and their families will find their hearts lifting this summer as they become signs of hope, showing their sisters and brothers around the world that no family or community stands alone.