Monica Conmee works in our education team. In this blog she explains why education is such an important part of CAFOD’s work.
My dear young people, a better world can be built as a result of your efforts, your desire to change, and your generosity. Pope Francis
CAFOD is nothing without faith, our international partners and people. I am constantly amazed at the insights, ideas and sheer determination of people to build a more just and peaceful world. When given the chance to reflect and learn, these actions can combine to make a significant impact on our world and in our communities. Pope Francis’ address to young people earlier this year reminds us how much of a difference young people can make.
Throughout this year we have been blogging for CAFOD about climate change. When I first started I thought it would be mostly just about global warming and saving energy, but I have learnt it is so much more than that. I have never really stopped to think about how the actions of people in this country affected the lives of those in poorer countries.
As well as saving energy, we need to think about how much of the earth’s resources we use and how wasteful we are.
Everyone talks about how we, as a country, need to save money and learn to live on less but I never really stopped to think about the big difference each family can make. Last week I watched Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s programme on food waste.
On Thursday 5 and Friday 6 November, the CAFOD Young Climate Bloggers came down to Romero House for two packed days of reflection, workshops and celebration. Their original task was to blog monthly about climate change but they have gone above and beyond this. Since January, between them, they have written over 70 blogs and vlogs, spoken to MPs, raised money for those who are affected by climate change, have thousands of followers on social media accounts and raised awareness about climate change in their own communities and beyond.
of them have been looking at living more sustainably. Two of our blogging groups, from St James’s and St Robert’s, have been looking at ways in which they can do this individually, and on a wider level in their school communities.
Kayleigh, from St James, says:
“We at St James are trying to be very environmentally friendly. Before we started blogging, we already had a few things in place. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the installation of a wind turbine and solar panels at the school. We are now re-launching the E-squad to let people know what we have done and can do ourselves. The E-squad’s motto is recycle, reuse, reduce. Here is our notice board that raises awareness and reminds us of the small changes we can all make. Throughout the school, recycling takes place dividing litter into three different categories. If everyone does their bit, then we will can make a difference together.”
The St Robert’s bloggers also encourage us to think how lifestyle changes, such as turning the heating down, can play a part. They’ve been inspired by a recent trip to the European Parliament, arranging a private meeting with their MEP Jude Kirton-Darling. They said that the trip gave them “an insight into what other countries and the European Union itself is doing to combat climate change, whether it is through emissions cuts or more investment in renewable energy. Continue reading “Our CAFOD young climate bloggers: How to live more sustainably”
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:
Our fantastic young climate bloggers have had a busy month campaigning and raising awareness – so much to celebrate! Several groups attended the lobby of parliament last month. Toby, from All Saints, describes the visit to parliament as follows:
Seven students from All Saints travelled down to the Houses of Parliament to discuss climate change with their MPs and what they were going to do about it. We began our day with two of our students attending the ecumenical service at the Emmanuel Centre, Westminster. They helped carried two pieces of a broken heart that fitted together. The heart stood for the motto of the lobby, “…for the love of…”.
The crack in the heart was to show what we as humans are doing to the earth. Later we made our way to the Houses of Parliament to rally with our local MPs and discuss the issues and solutions to climate change.
Some students from St James had time to reflect on the lobby and its relevance to the Pope’s encyclical, which was published the day immediately after the lobby.
The opening paragraph of the encyclical sets the tone for the whole document: the Earth “is protesting for the wrong that we are doing to her, because of the irresponsible use and abuse of the goods that God has placed on her. We have grown up thinking that we were her owners and dominators, authorised to loot her. The violence that exists in the human heart, wounded by sin, is also manifest in the symptoms of illness that we see in the Earth, the water, the air and in living things.” Pope Francis, June 2015.
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.
Some of our young climate bloggers from St Roberts in Newminster have been thinking about people who inspire them, and ask us, ‘Who is your climate hero?’, having read about Martin, Veronica and William in the One Climate One World action guide. This is what they have to say.
“Of the three of these amazing young people, I think that William from Nicaragua should be seen as a climate hero! He is only 14, yet he is the leader of his environmental group at school and helps to plant trees in the streets and along rivers, and to teach other people in his community to do the same.
“I am the leader of an environment committee at school. We try to get the message out to people to look after the environment because we can’t live or do anything without it, so we have to look after it.” – William