Great Generation: walking for refugees

Molly is a year 10 student from London who spent part of the summer on work experience with CAFOD in the education team. In this blog she writes about her experience taking a pilgrimage in solidarity with refugees.

“I met so many people with such amazing and inspiring stories of their life, and how they had come to this country wanting safety and peace.” Molly

Lampedusa crosses made by Francisco Tuccio
Supporters across the UK have been carrying Lampedusa crosses on pilgrimages of solidarity with refugees

In May my dad, brother and I walked the 74 mile pilgrimage from London to Canterbury  with 100 other people. The pilgrimage is an annual event which is run by ‘The Connection’ at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London, and this year was its 26th pilgrimage.

We started from St Martin-in-the-fields church on the Friday morning and finished at Canterbury Cathedral on the Monday afternoon. The pilgrimage was to help fundraise and raise money for homeless people and refugees around London and in our country, and the pilgrimage was also a chance to have fun and meet new people.

Sign up to march for refugees this Saturday

When I was on the walk I talked to so many new people, including some refugees who  did not have any were to stay, but they go to ‘The Connection’ at St Martins where volunteers give them a place to shower, eat, wash their clothes etc.

Download our pilgrimage for young people

Continue reading “Great Generation: walking for refugees”

Four things to think about when Speaking Up to your MP

In October, CAFOD supporters will be amongst thousands of people Speaking Up to our MPs about how renewable energy can help poor communities and tackle climate change. Yet the idea of lobbying your MP can be daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before.

Ruth Stanley, CAFOD’s parliamentary officer, spends her days encouraging MPs to support CAFOD’s work in the House of Commons. We asked her to address some of our most common fears about lobbying MPs head-on. 

CAFOD supporters lobbied Andrew Stephenson MP on climate change
CAFOD supporters lobbied Andrew Stephenson MP on climate change

(1) “… but I didn’t vote for them”

If you live in their constituency, your MP represents you. It doesn’t matter whether you voted for them. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them. If doesn’t even matter if you are too young to vote or if you aren’t registered. They represent you, so you have a right to contact them.

Contact your MP to bring power to the people Continue reading “Four things to think about when Speaking Up to your MP”

How people in Zimbabwe are fighting back against climate change with renewable energy

Takura Gwatinyanya works for CAFOD partner Caritas Harare in Zimbabwe. He recently met CAFOD supporters in England and Wales to talk about how Caritas Harare is using renewable energy to help to tackle the effects of climate change in the southern African country.

Takura and Caritas Harare are helping people in Zimbabwe face the challenge of climate change
Takura and Caritas Harare are helping people in Zimbabwe face the challenge of climate change

Pope Francis warns in Laudato Si’ that our interference with nature is particularly affecting areas in which the poorest people live.

This is all too evident for the communities that Takura and Caritas Harare serve in Zimbabwe. As we have caused the climate to warm, drought has dried up people’s water supplies, destroyed their crops and livelihoods, and increased the spread of diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and diarrhoea.

Speak up to your MP for action on climate change

Takura recently visited parishes around England and Wales to talk about how the support of Catholics in this country is enabling people in Zimbabwe to overcome the challenges thrown at them by our exploitation of nature.

Continue reading “How people in Zimbabwe are fighting back against climate change with renewable energy”

World Refugee Day: Send a message of hope

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg98m9DY3lE]

For World Refugee Day, CAFOD communications officer, Mark Chamberlain reflects on attitudes towards refugees

In the past fortnight a time machine took me back to the late 1980s. I was sitting watching my favourite tea-time programme: a re-run, in glorious Technicolor, of a McCarthy-era, American sci-fi series.

The meek, unsuspecting earthlings were being duped again, by the cold, cunning aliens. More invaders had landed in their town and were taking over. But the only people that could see this were a small boy who kept shouting for people to listen…and me.

Send a message of hope to refugees on World Refugee Day Continue reading “World Refugee Day: Send a message of hope”

Why I volunteer: “…the best decision you will ever make!”

This Lent, Joe Andrew celebrated 20 years of volunteering with CAFOD.  Here, he writes about the journey on which volunteering has taken him:

My involvement with the Catholic Church and with groups like CAFOD has gone in waves or cycles all my life. As a teenager I was an altar boy, went to Mass several times a week, and did house-to-house collections, sponsored events, all that kind of thing.

Volunteer Joe Andrew accepts a cheque from pupils at English Martyrs school in the Birmingham Diocese
Volunteer Joe Andrew accepts a cheque from pupils at English Martyrs school in the Birmingham Diocese

In my 40s I returned to my youthful faith and enthusiasms, and with it a renewed sense that ‘faith without deeds is dead’.  With a few like-minded people in the parish I helped set up a local CAFOD group. We did lots of different stuff: raised money by auctions, coffee mornings, raffles and all the things that Catholics are so good at. Within a few years, I felt the need to go further, and applied successfully to become what was then known as a Covenant Volunteer for Birmingham Archdiocesan CAFOD. (‘Covenant’ meant that you ‘covenanted’, that is, committed to spend x hours a year on work for CAFOD).

Now the arrangements are more informal and you do what you can. For me my main role is as a Media Volunteer, and I also speak at Mass around the two Fast Days, visit a few local schools at those times, and also help out with fixing up speakers at Mass for the two Fast Days.

See how you can volunteer with us

Continue reading “Why I volunteer: “…the best decision you will ever make!””

CAFOD: Lampedusa cross carpenter’s message of hope

Lampedusa crosses made by Francisco Tuccio
Lampedusa crosses made by Francisco Tuccio

Sicilian carpenter Francesco Tuccio makes rough crosses from the wreckage of boats carrying refugees that sank off the island of Lampedusa to offer to survivors as a symbol of their rescue and a sign of hope. Here, Francesco explains what motivated him to act.

In 2009, refugees started landing on the coast of Lampedusa. We, as residents, got to know the people, the victims and their families. I felt angry that no one was caring about so many tragedies and losses. It was a real injustice.

We were on the front line to help: to welcome refugees, feed them and treat them with respect. I got the impression that for the media they were second-class citizens not worth of attention, not even worth being mentioned in the papers.

I had never witnessed so much suffering in all my life. To see people going through so much pain, seeing mothers losing their children or a husband was very hard. It is difficult to describe how I felt when faced with so many tragedies.

So, as a Catholic inspired by the suffering Jesus Christ went through on the cross, I wanted to create crosses to give hope and a better future to those who were suffering so much. This action has been appreciated by so many people.

Send your own message of hope, inspired by the Lampedusa cross

Continue reading “CAFOD: Lampedusa cross carpenter’s message of hope”

Refugees: Young people’s messages to Parliament

Tom HallsworthTom Hallsworth works with Animate Youth Ministries in St Helen’s in the Liverpool Archdiocese, leading retreat days with young people aged 11-25 to inspire them to live out the Gospel and social justice. He’s part of the CAFOD ambassador scheme, connecting CAFOD with youth centres across the country.  

I’ve been working hard to help young people to understand the refugee crisis, and see what we can do to help. I organised a session in my church where we started with an icebreaker on refugee statistics and also had interactive prayer stations to help people to reflect and think about refugees.

The young people found it really striking that more than half of refugees worldwide are under 18 years old. It got us thinking about what it would be like to be in their shoes. My friend told me she was shocked that so many refugees are young, are unaccompanied children, why can’t they sort it out? It’s such a huge problem, there are just so many.

Then we used CAFOD’s Lampedusa cross action cards to write our own messages of hope for refugees. I’ve collected hundreds of these messages, and the numbers are still growing.

Send your message of hope to refugees and migrants Continue reading “Refugees: Young people’s messages to Parliament”

CAFOD campaigns: The accidental MP correspondent

Gillie Drinkall has been volunteering with CAFOD for nine years. About two years ago she started writing to her MP about CAFOD campaigns. Back then she joined a group of CAFOD supporters visiting parliament, and heard from  Nick Hurd MP about the impact of our campaigning. Here she tells us that story.

I first joined CAFOD as an Education Volunteer. That decision was based as much on proximity to CAFOD’s headquarters as any spiritual calling. But, within weeks of me joining, CAFOD had moved from Brixton, near my home, slightly further afield to Romero House. Furthermore, as an Education Volunteer I found myself, unsurprisingly, in schools rather than the office.

Seven hugely enjoyable years later, I now, in addition to the schools volunteering, spend one day a week helping the Campaigns Team at Romero House. It was here that, slightly inadvertently, I became an MP Correspondent (MPC).

Find out how you could become an MP Correspondent

My first letter to my MP

I was asked to draft a letter about the World Humanitarian Summit for MP Correpondents to use. Having written the letter, I decided that I should actually send it to my MP and call myself an MPC too!

That was how, this week, I found myself attending the MP Correspondents’ annual parliamentary reception at the House of Commons. Here I heard first-hand why my action was, and continues to be, important. Continue reading “CAFOD campaigns: The accidental MP correspondent”

Youth leaders: messages of hope for refugees

20160301_115103
CAFOD ambassadors at Romero House

Sarah Burrows from CAFOD’s Youth team describes how young people have been writing messages of love and hope for refugees .

CAFOD ambassadors from retreat and outreach teams have spent the past few months reflecting on the refugee crisis, responding by raising awareness and gathering messages of hope and love for refugees from the young people they work with. At the beginning of March the group came down to London to bring their messages to Parliament, and speak to their MPs about the refugee crisis. The day before, we had the chance to gather together, halfway through Lent, to reflect on the fact that refugees are such a huge part of the Year of Mercy, they are “brothers and sisters to be welcomed, respected and loved.” (Pope Francis, 2014)

Continue reading “Youth leaders: messages of hope for refugees”

Show Your Love and Share Your Heart for Valentine’s Day

Libby Abbott, Campaigns Coalition Manager at CAFOD, tells us how witnessing an act of kindness from a supporter on the Paris metro has inspired her to Show the Love and tackle climate change.

Crafted Green Hearts for Show the Love campaign
Green Hearts for Show the Love

In December, I had the privilege to travel with 21 CAFOD campaigners to Paris as part of the UN COP21 – where world leaders met and agreed a binding deal to tackle climate change. We had an incredible time bearing witness and participating in mass mobilisations around the Eiffel Tower.

We also had some very meaningful exchanges with Parisians. On the Paris metro, one campaigner, Jane, noticed a woman staring at a badge she was wearing. The badge was a heart made of green felt with the word ‘families’ embroidered across the front.

Jane explained to the Parisian that it represented families all over the world who would be affected by climate change. She then unpinned the green heart from her coat and gave it to the woman to keep. Looking back to me she said, ‘I guess I’ll just have to make another one for myself!’

Unbeknownst to Jane, she had just participated in a campaign action. CAFOD is teaming up with the Climate Coalition this Valentine’s Day to #ShowTheLove for all the things we hold dear that could be affected by climate change, from our families in the UK to the world’s poorest overseas. Continue reading “Show Your Love and Share Your Heart for Valentine’s Day”