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.
(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.
Last year, St Thomas More parish in Coventry won CAFOD’s energy audit competition. This offered one parish the chance to receive a free cost-cutting and carbon-cutting energy audit from energy experts B:SSEC. Six months later, parishioner Kris Pears reports back on what difference the audit has made.
When we heard we’d won the competition, we were delighted. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m not sure the church has had any insulation since it was built in 1968 and the heating system is so ancient and inefficient with air blowers you can’t hear Mass sometimes at all.
I hoped that the audit would give us a clear idea what work needed to be done and the best options for the amount we had to spend. The report came back full of ideas for changes we could make.
At the moment, we can’t afford any big capital outlay, but there are plenty of smaller items in the report. Although these are minor improvements, added together they will make a reasonable difference.
As a CAFOD supporter, and member of the Lancaster Diocese Faith and Justice Commission Environment Group, I travelled from North-West England for the event, held on Saturday 7 November in Westminster Cathedral Hall.
Journey with us
The opening prayer litany set the tone: “If you are asking questions such as: What is the purpose of my life in this world? What is the goal of my work and all my efforts, then journey with us;” “If you think we were made for love and therefore that gestures of generosity, solidarity and care can well up within us, then journey with us.” Continue reading “Climate change: The Laudato Si’ challenge”
When I flew into the Philippines a few weeks after Typhoon Haiyan, I was shocked by the extent of the damage. The destruction in Tacloban was the worst I’ve ever seen – worse even than after the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004. 170 mph winds and 25-foot waves had destroyed concrete buildings, overturned cars, and drowned thousands of people.
Catholics in England and Wales responded with great compassion to the typhoon, donating an amazing £5.4 million to CAFOD’s appeal. In the first weeks after the disaster, we worked with our Caritas partners to reach thousands of people, providing emergency support including clean water, food, shelter kits, hygiene facilities, and everyday household goods.
Over the longer term, the needs have changed. We have been working to provide more lasting assistance such as shelter and livelihoods and have been looking at how to reduce risks in case of another disaster.
Two years on, it is extremely encouraging to see that the work of the Church has helped so many thousands of people move into stronger homes, and find new ways of making a living. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many local aid workers, diocesan staff and volunteers in the Philippines whose tireless work has helped so many people to rebuild their lives.
As Pope Francis has pointed out, however, countries like the Philippines remain at great risk because of climate change. In Laudato Si’ Pope Francis reminded us that climate change is real, urgent and that it must be tackled. He also described the climate as “a common good, belonging to all and meant for all”. Continue reading “Philippines Typhoon: two years on”
Emer, one of our fantastic young climate bloggers from St Erconwald’s parish, has discovered an interesting effect climate change could have on our health.
Most people know the general facts about climate change (that the ice caps are melting due to the warming temperatures) but it turns out that climate change is also acting in ways that aren’t quite so noticeable. This research I found out really surprised me about how climate change is affecting our everyday lives in ways in which we wouldn’t expect.
Hay fever is something that so many people suffer from, and although it is not always serious, it often leads to the unwanted red nose and watery eye look. And studies are now suggesting that climate change could be the cause in an increase in sufferers. This is because with the high carbon dioxide levels and hotter temperatures plants are growing faster, blooming sooner in spring and producing more and more pollen. Which in turn leads to worse hay fever symptoms and a longer hayfever season!
Although hay fever is an uncomfortable experience for lots of us in the UK, it is nothing compared to the huge impact on the health of those already living in poverty. The rise in sea levels leading to flooding, triggered by climate change, is leading to water that is used for washing and drinking becoming contaminated leading to more cases of fatal diseases’ such as typhoid fever.
Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has predicted that the raise in temperatures will lead to more cases of malaria. This is a tropical disease which is spread by mosquitos, and because other countries climates are becoming more suitable to the conditions the disease thrives in, more people globally will be at risk of contracting malaria.
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.
Our young climate bloggers are fantastic! They continue to inspire us with all they are doing to fundraise and raise awareness about climate change and the work CAFOD does with its partners. One of our schools, St Robert’s, has two groups that blog frequently about what they think and the action they are taking.Daniel tells how he was inspired to act:
I’m just a 15 year old boy who wants to make a difference and I decided in order to do that I needed to act. As an avid runner I decided that this might be a good way for me to make a difference: by fundraising, and I’m going to start fundraising for CAFOD by running. However you do not have to be good at this, you could swim, cycle even abseil! Are you up to the challenge? It’s very easy to become part of Team CAFOD and to help fundraise!
Daniel is going to be running in the Great North 5K in September, so do sponsor him at his CAFOD fundraising page!And another group from St Robert’s talks about how they have been invited to help others in their school raise awareness and funds. Here’s just one example:
This reflection and prayer, based on the gospel for Sunday 28 June, Matthew 16:13-19, were written by Matthew Sanderson, who is the Executive Assistant to the Director of CAFOD.
“Who do you say I am?”
Matthew Sanderson visiting CAFOD projects in El Salvador
What were your first thoughts of God? What did you imagine God to be? For me, God was a figure sat on a cloud with a beard, or someone who wagged his finger from on high. As I have grown up, so too has my answer to the question ‘Who do I say God is?’
For me, God is love. That is who I say God is.
Last week saw the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’. Pope Francis is clear that God made us all out of love and to love.
We are reminded in the encyclical that “the entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us” (Laudato Si’ section #84). I am reminded of this when I see the rolling countryside of the Yorkshire Dales.
What’s more, the special love of the Creator means each human being is “conceived in the heart of God” (#65). As children of God, we have an inherent dignity, not because of anything we have done, but out of God’s love for us.
We can reflect God’s love for us in our daily lives as “we were made for love” (#58). By remaining in God’s love, may we come to know the Lord more and more each day.
Lord, we give thanks for your love and the world around us. We pray that we continually realise that we were made for love. Amen.
Orla, from London, recently spent a week volunteering at the CAFOD Romero House office. Find out why she thinks young people care about climate change, and who inspired her during her time with the CAFOD team.
As an internet-savvy teenager, I have the sort of constant access, 24 hours a day, to the world via social media that my parents never even dreamt of. It’s all there, virtually, and for better or worse, at the touch of a button. News is readily available, telling me stories from half way across the world that I share while sitting on my sofa at home.
For my generation, therefore, the world seems like a smaller place than ever before. And that is reinforced by living and going to school in London. I am part of one of the most ethnically diverse communities anywhere on the globe. In my year group of 96 at my Catholic school, I am one of only four whose parents and grandparents were born and brought up in the UK. So I can learn about such a variety of different cultures by just talking to the person sitting next to me in class.
Speaking Up on 17 June
When looking around my class I know of many members of my friendship group who feel too swept up in the shallowness and unfulfilment that comes with social media. One of the integral parts of my Catholic school is to reach out and help others through charity work. Therefore I know of so many of my peers who seized the opportunity to take part in the Speak Up for the Love of… climate lobby on the 17 June.
I believe that young people in our society often get the reputation of being uncaring delinquents. However, I speak for many my age when I stress that being a teenager in a world where suffering is so present, where the future of the planet we have to grow up in seems to be spiralling out of control, where the effects of climate change are already being seen, really terrifies us and leaves us feeling powerless.
Students from Blessed William Howard Catholic High School travelled from Wolverhampton to London on the day of the Speak Up For The Love Of climate lobby to meet their MP. In this blog they reflect on their experience.
On 17 June a group of nine of us from Blessed William Howard travelled to London. We had made a short video clip about climate change as part of the Close-up on Climate film project, and excitingly our video got chosen to be shown at the Speak Up For The Love Of rally at the end of the day.
After a long journey we went to the ecumenical service which was really lovely, as everyone joined in and became united in their belief of addressing climate change. We planned to meet our local MP, Jeremy Lefroy, in the houses of Parliament. We were talking to him for an hour and forty five minutes. What we learnt was very interesting. We asked him several questions, and some even caught him out.