Volunteering for CAFOD as an MP Correspondent

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CAFOD MP correspondents are a crucial element to CAFOD’s work, by writing letters to their MPs a few times a year or even meeting them in person to call for action and share their passion for global justice. Once a year MP Correspondents meet with their MPs at the annual MPC reception at the Speakers House in Parliament.

Christine Allen, CAFOD Director.
Campaign supporters at the CAFOD MP Correspondent Annual Parliamentary Reception at Speaker’s House, House of Commons, Westminster.
tEmily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Allister Phillip, Caritas Antilles Youth Emergency Action Committees, Anna Fraine, CAFOD Climate Champion and Christine Allen, CAFOD Director.
Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury and Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

Being at the MP Correspondent reception was a brilliant opportunity to meet other volunteers and hear their experiences and how they have engaged with their MPs.

It is so easy to feel powerless and that our vote or our letter won’t make a difference. It was uplifting hearing from Emily Thornbury who is the MP for Islington South talk about the impact her constituents’ letters have.

“Don’t let anybody tell you it’s a waste of time. Instead you must always remember that the most powerful, the most personal letters that you will write, are more likely to get pinned to my wall, or one of my colleagues, and will inspire them every day to fight for what you believe in.”

It is so important that we come together as a collective group to tell out MPs that we care about climate change, poverty and injustice.

Are you interested to become a CAFOD MP Correspondent? Sign up and find out more reading CAFOD MPC Guide and recent MPC Actions

WE NEED YOU!

By Siobhan Doyle
MP Correspondent / Communication Volunteer

PROTECTING OUR COMMON HOME

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A ground-breaking agreement on climate change, signed in Paris in 2015 by 196 countries (including the UK), came into force in November 2016. This was a recognition that climate change is by far the most serious danger facing mankind and all life on earth. The effects of climate change being felt now include increased extreme weather patterns – droughts, flooding, stronger and more frequent hurricanes. In the UK we are experiencing hotter summers and wetter winters. Sea levels are rising as the result of polar ice melting and the water is expanding as it warms up. The warmer water absorbs more carbon dioxide resulting in it becoming more acidic.

The impact of this is falling most heavily on people in the developing countries – those who have done least to cause it and who also have the least resources to cope.

Heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan destroyed thousands of homes, roads, bridges and farms in August 2013 for the third year in a row.

We need to ensure that our politicians do take the actions they know are necessary. To enable us to do this, CAFOD is launching a new campaign “Our Common Home”, named after Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ – On Care for Our Common Home, which complements what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says  that our responsibility as good stewards of creation is to care for our world and not ‘steal’ resources from future generations.    

We need to tell the government to embed in law that the UK will reach “Net Zero” carbon emissions by 2045 – that is, the emissions we produce will be no more than the carbon that is being absorbed e.g. by trees and plants. We all need to play our part in putting pressure on our Government.

CAFOD will be joining other organisations in a mass lobby of Parliament on Wednesday 26 June, where thousands of people will be discussing climate change with their MPs. A coach will be running from Hove via Crawley.

Sign up today. If not, we will have no answer when, as Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage climate activist said: “Our grandchildren ask us why we knew, but did nothing.”

Sign our petition and find out more about the lobby today: cafod.org.uk/climatelobby.  CAFOD also invites you to reflect how you, your family and your parish can work together to respond to the climate crisis, inspired by the teachings of Pope Francis. Use the  “Live simple activity poster”  to think and discusses about how your community can do a few simple things to live more sustainably and cut down on carbon emission.

By Roger Morton CAFOD Campaign Volunteer Coordinator

Inspire younger generations by becoming a CAFOD School Volunteer

Year 2 children at St Antony’s primary school, Woodford Green belong to a CAFOD club

Would you be interested in becoming a CAFOD School Volunteer?, If your answer is YES, please keep reading.

By becoming a CAFOD School Volunteer you will have the opportunity to be part of a global movement building a fairer world, inspiring young people to get involved. If you have spare time during the week to visit schools, do consider this volunteering role. We would love to have more school volunteers in Brighton, Chichester, Worthing, Arundel, Burgess Hill, Dorking, Reigate, Redhill, and Leatherhead areas.

Year 5 pupils from St Antony’s primary school in Woodford Green, London, take part in a moment of prayer and reflection at the end of their introductory workshop to CAFOD’s Power to be campaign.

What is involved? The volunteer will need to visit Catholic schools to deliver a lively and motivating presentation about CAFOD’s work and mission either in an assembly or classroom.  Volunteers can specialise in either primary or secondary schools or both.  CAFOD will provide support and training to carry out this role and supply suitable materials to deliver the presentations.  The work also involves contacting schools (by phone and email), negotiating arrangements for the visit and for the presentation and then following-up with correspondence.

In order to become a School Volunteer, you do not have to be a teacher, but need to have the ability to communicate effectively with children and young people of the appropriate age. You also should be able to find your way around a website and downloading and printing resources, use technology to deliver assemblies and workshops (digital projector, laptop, PowerPoint) or be willing to learn. It is important also to be able to use email as a form of communication. As you will have to visit different schools, the use of car is a distinct advantage.  

Susan Kambalu introduces the Sustainable Development Goals to students at Palmer Catholic Academy.

It is great to have a sense of purpose, knowing that you are doing something useful for a worthwhile cause. Most of our volunteers find this experience satisfying and enjoyable. Children, young people and staff of schools are generally welcoming, enthusiastic and appreciative of visits.  As a CAFOD Volunteer, you will be part of a team and a friendly network of people with shared values and commitment. You will have the opportunity of gaining experience of working in the voluntary sector and expanding your skills set. Together, the School Volunteers are a team that is helping to shape the future for a changed world and you will be part of that!

Please feel free to contact Jenny Finlayson, CAFOD Arundel & Brighton Community Participation Coordinator
arundelandbrighton@cafod.org.uk,
01483898866
St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, Surrey GU5 0QX 


 

Celebrating our fantastic Young Leaders!

Congratulations to our Young Leaders from Cardinal Newman Catholic School Hove, Salesian School Chertsey, and St Peter’s Guildford for completing this year’s CAFOD Young Leadership programme.

Over the year they have led assemblies about CAFOD at local Catholic primary schools organised CAFOD information stalls at fairs, raised money through sponsored silences, no phone days, cakes sales, soup lunches and non-uniform days. Thank you to the Young Leaders for all you have done for CAFOD  and many thanks to all the Staff who have supported them throughout the year.

On Tuesday 25th June there was a celebration day for all the Young Leaders from schools in the South of England and Christine Allen director of CAFOD presented them with their certificates.

Thank you so much to our Young Leaders for everything you have done to support CAFOD’s work this year and I hope that this will be the beginning of your journey with CAFOD. We have other opportunities to volunteer for CAFOD for example in your parish and don’t forget our Step into the Gap volunteer programme for over 18s.

CAFOD Representatives from Schools, University and Parishes attend the ‘Time is Now’ lobby on 26 June from the Arundel and Brighton Diocese

Approximately a hundred and twenty people from across the Arundel and Brighton Diocese attended the Time is Now Lobby of MPs on the 26 June. It was a warm, sunny day, and people of all ages and from all walks of life gave up their day to meet their MPs outside Parliament. Some travelled by train and others by the diocesan coach which started in Hove, travelled to Crawley and on into central London.

The people were there to tell their MPs that the time to act on climate change is NOW and to ask them to ensure that the UK commits to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 by implementing suitable policies. They wanted them to take responsibility for all UK emissions and not ask countries least able to cope to bear our country’s burden and also to scale up investment now to tackle the climate and environmental emergency. Finally, they wanted a commitment to immediately stop all new ODA investment in fossil fuels, and to phase out all public support for fossil fuels from 2020 onwards. The lobbyists there were courteous, but demanding of their MPs.

The students from Hove and Crawley began their day with school based activities in Paradise Gardens and Amigo Hall. They met News Round Presenter Martin Dougan and actor Ceallach Spellman and had an opportunity to design their TimeIsNow placards.

Watch interviews with some young campaigners on BBC Newsround

Meanwhile, those people not associated with schools, attended the interfaith service at Westminster Church Hall, where Christine Allen director of CAFOD welcomed everyone and urged all to come together as people united in faith and in relationship with one another in conjunction with the planet through the goodness of God. She reminded the people of Pope Francis’ words in Laudato Si’ telling them that they can all cooperate together as instruments of God to care for creation.

Faith leaders from all major religions came together; including former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Qari Asim MBE, Chair of the Mosques and Imams Advisory Board; Vishvapani, Buddhist teacher and Radio 4 Thought for the Day contributor. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, leader of Masorti Judaism in the UK also spoke passionately at the interfaith event about how we must all work together to protect our world . He said that no action is too small and we all need to change the way we live to stop climate change.

The Walk of Witness took place from St Martin-in-the-Fields crossed to Trafalgar Square and lobbyists walked en masse to Whitehall to show we have a shared hope and a common aim. People held banners, chanted and started the day off with so much energy and enthusiasm!

From 1pm students, parishioners and people from the Climate Coalition, gathered at Westminster to connect the poor to the powerful by sharing their concerns on climate change and the environment with their local MPs who have the power to make a difference. Peter Kyle MP spent about half an hour talking to his constituents including twenty students from Hove. I was very impressed by how well informed and articulate they were engaging with him and asking him intelligent questions. He even apologised to them for the situation they will face in the future. Students from Crawley also met their MP, Henry Smith and were also clearly prepped to talk passionately to their MP and demand action. It was a wonderful site to behold – so many people meeting their MPs along the Thames.

Whilst walking around the lobby queue, there was a real sense of excitement and expectation. There was a sea of placards with slogans about combating climate change: “Keep the planet cool”, “There is no planet B” and, a personal favourite, “More masses, less gasses”.

One of the students called Natalia commented; ‘I’m really glad I went to the Climate Lobby. It helped me to see how important it is that we take action now, rather than in 20 years’ time. We should also continue to put pressure on our politicians to act. I would definitely encourage everyone to get involved in any further action.’

Sussex University student Siobhan added; “It’s so important that we take action on climate change, we all have a responsibility to care for our common home. I am inspired by Saint Oscar Romero who taught us that we cannot do everything, however if we all come together and do something well, change can happen”

The students also had the opportunity of meeting Brazilian land rights lawyer, José Batista, from organisation the Pastoral Land Commission Marabá, who travelled to the largest-ever environmental lobby of Parliament, supported by UK aid agency CAFOD, calling for urgent action to tackle the climate crisis.

When meeting Batista, the students had lots of questions for him like: “What does the Amazon actually look like?” and “What can we do to help?”

One student also wanted to thank Batista for defending the environment: “Thank you from me, for protecting one of the most beautiful places on earth, and I hope that the Amazon will still exist for me to visit when I get older.”

At 2pm alarms went off in unison all along the queue with over 12,000 people making a noise about climate change. Alongside alarms a cheer went up and chants of “The Time is Now” could be heard!

The day culminated with a Mass at Church House which was a chance to reflect and thank God for our common home. Some of our students and staff from Arundel and Brighton led the bidding prayers. It was a beautiful way to end the day.

We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect our environment and send a clear message to our politicians. We could not have achieved this without the support of the people from our Arundel and Brighton Diocese and indeed across the United Kingdom.

For me personally, it was a privilege to attend the lobby and I felt so inspired by the parishioners of all ages – grandparents, mothers, fathers and young, together with the students from our Arundel and Brighton Schools whom, indeed, will have to face the consequences of the climate crisis. But,there is indeed HOPE! These young people are inspirational, care passionately about their common home and demand change.

Thank you to all those that supported the lobby.

If you were unable to attend the lobby and want your MP to know your concerns about climate change, why not write to them? You can use our net zero MP briefing to help draft your letter or email and include this booklet for them to learn more about climate change and the environment.

Jenny Finlayson Community Participation Coordinator for Arundel and Brighton