We caught up with CAFOD volunteer Ryan who is getting ready to speak to over 8,000 people at the Catholic youth event, Flame 2017, at the SSE Arena, Wembley on March 11. Read on to find out more.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with CAFOD.
Currently, I am a volunteer at Savio House, the Salesian residential retreat centre. I really enjoy working with young people and helping them to build relationships with each other as well as with God. When I was in Y12 I joined the Cafod Young Leaders program in my school and as a part of this, I went to the Houses of Parliament to speak to my MP about climate change. From this, I continued to volunteer for a second year on the program with different people.
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.
Georgia is ayouth leader at The Briars Catholic youth retreat centre.This year she will work with hundreds of young people, enabling them to explore their faith. She has just started a year volunteering with CAFOD as a youth ambassador, championing global justice work in her centre. Here she reflects on her year ahead.
Last week I was fortunate enough to be a part of CAFOD’s ambassador first training programme, in which myself and eight other youth ministers joined forces to work together on how we could further raise awareness on the current refugee crisis.
“I have learnt so much about the refugee situation as well as about myself and I will be using my strength in faith to guide me when sharing about my experience in Lebanon.”
Ryan Wilkinson is a 19 year old CAFOD volunteer from Sheffield who recently travelled with CAFOD to meet refugees in Lebanon.
My recent visit to Lebanon has had such a large, positive impact on my life and has made me want to encourage others to learn more about the refugee crisis.
It was such incredible experience to meet refugees who Association Najdeh and Caritas Lebanon, the two CAFOD partners that I visited, reach and help in different camps and shelters. Having the opportunity to talk to people who are refugees, and the staff at the organisations was so inspiring for me as it made me think more about my life and how I can do more to encourage change.
There were times during my visit where it left me emotionally drained as I was hearing many emotional stories about what people are going through, and how their lives have changed since moving to Lebanon.
Leah Fox is a CAFOD volunteer from Newcastle who has spent the past year working with young people to help them better understand the plight of refugees. She recently travelled with CAFOD to meet refugees in Lebanon who have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict in Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
My overall experience in Lebanon was amazing; I feel extremely privileged to have had an opportunity to go and experience first-hand what life is like in the refugee camps. There was so much to learn and it was great to meet so many different people from many different walks of life.
In the camps we met Syrian and Palestinian refugees who had been in Lebanon for a long time. We also met Palestinian refugees from Syria, who initially moved there because of conflict but are now in Lebanon.
Antonia is a young leader from Sheffield. Here she shares her experience of volunteering with CAFOD, and speaking out for fairness and equality.
‘I really felt as though my talk had reached people. Not only had it raised awareness, it had also raised money and educated people so that they can also speak out for justice and equality.’ – Antonia
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had a passion for helping others. I was always the first one to put money in the charity box or to purchase a wristband and badge at a fundraising stall. My mother has always taught me to be a generous person, and she says that sometimes it’s the smallest actions that can create the biggest impact.
In May I visited my local church in the hope that my small gestures may indeed amount to something much bigger.
Once I had learnt about CAFOD’s World Gifts range and enlightened others through assemblies at school, I felt the urge to spread the message to a wider community. I was amazed at how CAFOD could change so many people’s lives in this way and knew that it was my duty to pass this idea on to others. My initial instinct was to contact my childhood parish and try to organise a five minute slot where I could introduced CAFOD’s work on a deeper level and perhaps encourage others to get involved. Naturally, they had already heard about CAFOD and were more than happy for me to come in and speak to their congregation: I was delighted!
Julia from CAFOD’s Youth Team shares her news year’s resolution for the new academic year and shares how young people can do their CYMED Faith in Action Award volunteering with CAFOD.
“The times we live in do not call for young ‘couch potatoes’ but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced.” Pope Francis, World Youth Day, 2016.
I’ve made a new year’s resolution… I need to go to World Youth Day! Even though by Panama 2019, I’ll be (just!) out of the age bracket, I’ll have to find a group to go with. I know I’ll make it one day!
Each person I speak to who was in Krakow this year has something amazing to say: ‘Exhilarating’, ‘electric’, ‘joy-filled’. ‘The Pope said some really inspiring and challenging things’. ‘WYD’s about our relationship with Jesus and what we do about that. To be a couch potato or to be active.’
An amazing group of young adults went to WYD in Rio in 2013 with CAFOD – volunteers from the UK alongside CAFOD partners in Brazil including Marianne and Maristely.
You can’t help but feel the energy and inspiration.
As a new term begins, CAFOD’s Elouise Hobbs spoke to young leader Jouriz, from Chertsey, about her experiences and advice for those thinking of taking part this September.
Over the last academic year CAFOD has worked with 245 young people from across seven dioceses as part of CAFOD’s young leadership programme. These young people spent the year learning about justice issues and developing leadership skills. Collectively they have reached around 65,000 people through their campaigning, speaking at Mass, fundraising, assemblies, blogs and tweets.
In the last academic year, Jouriz took part in the CAFOD young leadership programme; when I met her, she was presenting to lower forms from her school about the impact of CAFOD.
You recently attended the end of year Young Leadership celebration day with CAFOD. Do you have a moment that particularly sticks out for you?
“My favourite moment was actually at the beginning of the day. We had just arrived and as an ice-breaker we had to go round the tables and meet everyone. When we went around the tables with just a 30-second gap. It was so fast. I only had a short time to make a conversation and crack a joke. Even though it was only a short amount of time, it actually allowed me to get to know people really well. It was so much fun travelling up to London and getting to meet all the different people.”
We’d like to introduce and welcome the new team of CAFOD gap year volunteers as they settle into their placements this week. Read on to find out a little bit about the 2016/2017 team as they gear up for a year of volunteering with CAFOD.
James – St Mary’s High School, Lancaster
Six years ago I would have never had imagined I would be where I am today. I first got involved in CAFOD’s work in 2010 when I was invited to become another parish representative in church. Since that time, I have helped raise over £7,000 and have taken part in numerous rallies and lobbies, including the Enough Food for Everyone IF Rally in 2013 and the ‘Speak up for the Love of’ Lobby of Parliament in 2015.
This year, I hope to use my skills and knowledge at St Mary’s, where I’ll be part of the chaplaincy team, to put my faith into action. We’ll be supporting the college students at St Mary’s and pupils at Christ the King primary school, and will be fundraising and getting students involved in CAFOD’s work.
Today is Nelson Mandela Day. In 2005 at the ‘Make Poverty History’ march, Nelson Mandela called young people to be part of a ‘great generation’ to work to eliminate world poverty. Here, Sam reflects on what being part of the ‘great generation’ means to her.
Sam has been a CAFOD Young climate blogger and has just graduated from the CAFOD young leadership training programme.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela
What excites me the most about this quote is the message of hope behind it. It encourages young people, like you and me, to actually be the ones who bring about change and transformation in today’s modern world!