Volunteering: Stepping into the Gap in Peru

Alice is one of this year’s Step into the Gap volunteers. She describes her experience volunteering in the UK and seeing the work of CAFOD’s partners in Peru.

Although it is Volunteers’ Week, and I might be a bit biased, I really would recommend

Alice will be based in Birmingham
Alice took part in CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme

volunteering to anyone. This year I have been volunteering with CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme, based at Newman University, Birmingham.  I have learnt so much throughout the year, both about myself and the world of work. It has also been so rewarding working towards such a good cause.

CAFOD is running a webinar for Volunteers’ Week this year, and me and another Step into the Gapper, Danielle,  are taking part. Everyone is welcome to come and listen / see the slides which will show lots of photos from our overseas experience visiting CAFOD partners as well as photos from our placements in the UK.

Sign up for our Step into the Gap webinar and hear more from Alice.

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Stepping into the gap between volunteers and volunteers

Susan works in our education team. She recently visited Zimbabwe with young Step into the Gap volunteers from England and Wales. They met members of staff from Mavambo, one of CAFOD’s partners in Zimbabwe, who work extensively with local volunteers.

Martin, one of the Shemware Dzedu, who led us in singing
Martin, one of the Shemware Dzedu, who led us in singing

The singing reverberated through the hall, starting quietly, only one man, but swelling as the sixty or so people in the hall joined in. As I picked up the words, my voice joined too: “Here I am, I’m missing my partner. Here we are, your best friends! Here we are, here we are, here we are, your best friends. Here we are, here we are, here we are, face to face!”

Sign up to our webinar to hear more about our Gappers’ visits to Zimbabwe and Peru

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Why I volunteer – to be “part of a vital piece of God’s machinery”

Portsmouth CAFOD volunteers show their love at a supporter meeting
Portsmouth CAFOD volunteers show their love at a supporter meeting

Ahead of Volunteers’ week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share their experiences with us.  Here, Anne-Marie McBrien, a parish volunteer in the Portsmouth diocese, tells us why she makes time in a very busy schedule to help:

Firstly – because I was asked to! This is a very important point, I think, as lots of people don’t realise that CAFOD always needs more people to help and that you don’t need to do much to make a difference.

I was asked by an older parishioner to take on the role because she was tired and her husband was ill and I am younger and more mobile. I resisted at first because I do so many other things, and I have so little time, but I said yes because she needed someone to take it off her.  I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to devote any time to CAFOD. I was invited to, but couldn’t make, the supporter’s meeting just after I had taken on the role. I didn’t think it mattered really, as I gave the short talk at mass for Lent and I put up the posters I was sent.  I felt I was too busy with other church things, school responsibilities and latterly, the Scouts. Too much to do!

See more of our volunteering opportunities

The next supporters’ meeting I was able to attend.  As a result of it, my attitude to volunteering with CAFOD changed.

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Why I volunteer: “we must care for each other and be good stewards”

Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, we asked a number of CAFOD volunteers to share why volunteering with CAFOD is important to them.  One volunteer, Trevor Stockton, has been an active volunteer for more that 40 years in the Birmingham diocese.  Here, he shares his inspiration for volunteering and tips for those wanting to get involved. 

My volunteer work with CAFOD has been an important part of my life, especially my spiritual life, since the early 1970s. I was inspired by Pope Paul’s encyclical ‘Populorum Progressio’ and by Dom Helder Camara and his work in Brazil.

My whole working career was in social work and so my commitment to people who are disadvantaged was already active. So, parish involvement in Lent and Harvest Fast Days, and campaigns such as that against apartheid in South Africa were my starting points with CAFOD.

Find your starting point for volunteering with CAFOD

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