Applications for the CAFOD Gap Year, Step into the Gap, are now open. Julia Corcoran took part in the programme in 2013 /14, and in this blog describes her experience.
Two years ago I wrote a reflection on why I was really excited to be travelling to Sierra Leone. In those two years my life has taken a completely different turn and that’s mainly down to my experiences on Step into the Gap.Find out more about Step into the Gap
During my time on the programme my placement was at YMT, (the Youth service for Hexham and Newcastle) running retreats in the Emmaus Youth Village where groups of young people come to take time out, reflect on their lives, realise the impact they have on the world and hopefully the impact God has in their lives. During my time there I had a variety of opportunities to work with young people from leading Morning Prayer, helping to run youth festivals and running workshops, as well as going into schools for assemblies and speaking during Mass in the local parishes and at the Cathedral.
We’d like to introduce the new CAFOD gap year volunteers! They’ve been settling into their new placements with our Step into the Gap scheme and have each written a few words on their hopes for the year ahead.
Bea – Nottingham
Hello I’m Bea and I’m part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme based at The Briars Catholic Youth Retreat Centre in the Nottingham Diocese. I wanted to explore my passion for social justice, so when the opportunity arose to be on the Step into the Gap programme I jumped at the chance! And I can’t believe I’m part of – it’s so exciting!
deliver assemblies to raise environmental awareness in their school community, and blog about what they are doing. Quickly realizing that this was an issue bigger than just the school community, the group invited Andrew Stephenson MP to a Q&A session during which he was asked to outline the government’s plans for minimising damage to our planet. He went away and brought the questions to Prime Minister’s questions. The group was recently honoured as part of Million Minutes’ Celebrating Young People Awards, which celebrated how young people live out Catholic Social Teaching every day through taking social action. They were co-winners of the Caring for the Environment award. Here’s what Hannah and Hollis had to say:
On 1st July, we embarked on our long awaited journey to London. We were ready to take our first steps into the House of Lords, to celebrate our work on climate change as nominees for the Barbara Ward Award for Caring for the Environment.
As only two people were permitted to attend parliament. Hannah and I (Hollis) had to occupy ourselves in London for 5 hours, which certainly isn’t a bad deal! We both agreed we wanted to see Covent Garden, as we’ve heard it’s one of the key places to visit in the capital city. Whilst in Covent Garden, which was amazing, we enjoyed the entertainment and some very much needed ice-cream before freshening up to go and meet Maisie and Theo, for the award ceremony at the Prince Charles Theatre, in Leicester Square.
This week is National Volunteer Week, and we’re celebrating the amazing and varied work of our CAFOD volunteers. Schools volunteer Toni Woodhead shares her experience of visiting schools, getting creative and inspiring children to take action for CAFOD.
Being a school volunteer has been rewarding and enlightening, even with the preparation time and the first scary moments in front of the children. I have even found a creative side to myself and it is amazing how much it is developing!
The resources from CAFOD are always great and usually contains all the information about what is needed. At first this was all I used but as confidence grows, so do the ideas. From the first dirty water container and the wonderfully wrapped clean water, to the straw animal from Ikea that looked like a supergoat once a red cloak was added, I have started to look at every shape and size in a different way. I used glass spheres in a bucket for the weight instead of water. I bought child size garden tools for the “place at the table” and large sand toys for the “dig deep”. For the funny shaped food I got pictures from the internet and made them A4 size so the children could see them. They found them enjoyable. I found an old box in the loft that I cleaned and stuck on the words “treasure”.
Lucy, from CAFOD’s Youth Team, explains how Step into the Gap volunteers Mary, Chris and Leila are preparing for speaking on stage to 8000 young Catholics at Flame 2.
We’re so excited here in the youth team – we’ve been planning and preparing for Flame 2 since last September and can’t believe that it’s now less than two weeks away! Flame 2 is a national youth congress on March 7th, where 8,000 young people from England and Wales will gather at the SSE Arena, Wembley, to celebrate their faith. CAFOD is privileged to be a part of it.
Halfway through the year, Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team looks back at the achievements of our Young Leaders so far.
CAFOD’s Young Leaders are sixth-form students from across the country who inspire other young people to support CAFOD and take action, from fundraising to raising awareness of the issues CAFOD campaigns on.
120 amazing sixth-form students from the Dioceses of Brentwood, Clifton, Hallam, Portsmouth, Southwark and Westminster are training as CAFOD young leaders. Alongside their A-Levels, they have committed to CAFOD training days and taking action on injustice in the UK and overseas. Continue reading “CAFOD Young Leaders’ mid-year report”
Kate is one of CAFOD’s gap year and is currently based with Just Youth in Salford. She has been visiting communities supported by CAFOD in Nicaragua, from where she has sent this blog:
This week we had the chance to work closely with ASOMUPRO one of CAFOD’s partners out here in Nicaragua, they are an Association of Women Producers working out in the most rural areas of Nicaragua to give employment and strengthen the hope to the women of Nicaragua.
The slogan of ASOMUPRO is “LAS GAVIOTAS” translated into English it means “Seagulls,” it could be seen as a very strange slogan, however there is a lot of meaning behind it.
And the meaning is that everyone working for ASOMUPRO are like geese, they work in a V formation. The idea behind this formation is that the front bird leads and when they get tired they set themselves back and someone else takes up their place. Geese all stick together and drive themselves forward. ASOMUPRO are a team, they work together, share common values and are lifted by the enthusiasm and energy of each other. This is why this is the slogan for ASOMUPRO. This was by far the overriding theme of the week. The women we met gave up their time to talk to us about the work of ASOMUPRO and how ASOMUPRO have greatly helped their lives. Continue reading “Step into the Gap Nicaragua – “Together we can achieve more””
CAFOD’s gap year volunteers in Zimbabwe have been learning about our work supporting people with HIV and AIDS:
HIV and AIDS is something we’re all aware of and have heard about, but until we were immersed in the reality of Zimbabwe, we could not truly appreciate the impact it has on the individuals affected, their livelihoods, families and communities. However, within a situation which can sometimes seem hopeless and desperate, we have been truly inspired by the work of the Mashambanzou Care Trust.
Mashambanzou is a CAFOD partner which ultimately aims to see HIV-free communities through empowerment, care and support. They work mainly in poor, overcrowded areas of Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Over the past week we have witnessed many incredible projects, such as a children’s day care centre, child protection clubs in schools, and home visits to people living with HIV. Continue reading “Step into the Gap – Our week at Mashambanzou”
Young climate bloggers from St James’ Catholic High School tell the story of their CAFOD training weekend ‒ the fun, the challenges and the inspiration.
“Don’t use your hairdryers …” was one of the first pieces of advice we were given on arrival at the Othona Community in Bradwell on Sea “Hairdryers use more electricity than all the ovens, lights, fridges and freezers in our community joined together. If you use a hairdryer it could overload the system.” As the Orthona Community was off the main grid, frizzy hair it was to be. This was the first of many lessons learnt whilst experiencing sustainable living. The hard work and fun was about to begin.
Chrisis one of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap volunteers working for the Youth Ministry Team in the Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle. He’s currently in Nicaragua to see CAFOD’s work and has sent back this blog:
“How can one person make a difference in the world?” It is a hard question to answer.
At the start of our trip Vicky, one of our kind accompaniers, explained to us how ASOMUPRO – the association of women producers who we spent the week with – starts making a difference with the women they work with. They do this by giving women the opportunity to start believing in themselves. ASOMUPRO says that in the Nicaraguan machista society, once women start saying “I can” that is half the battle won. And it is surprising how much the phrase “I can” came up throughout our week with ASOMUPRO.
Here is one of the stories of those people affected by ASOMUPRO, this will hopefully give you an insight into their work, on a personal level.