Volunteering is something I’ve always liked to do and, so far, I’ve enjoyed reading with younger teenagers who struggle with literacy, as well as coaching Netball and multi-sports both at home and at local schools in Southampton where I go to university.
However, my volunteering experiences have been taken to whole new level during my time with CAFOD this summer. I can honestly say I have enjoyed every single day. Working for a cause, as opposed to just any old company, gives you a sense of purpose as well as satisfaction in that you can make a difference, however small.
To be perfectly honest I had no idea how big an organisation CAFOD was when I applied to volunteer. I didn’t attend a Catholic school, so had only heard about the charity at Church and live in an area where religious youth groups are relatively rare.
My expectations were completely exceeded on my first day at the HQ in London as I was shown around and introduced to people.
I suddenly realised the sheer manpower it took to make such an organisation run smoothly and be effective and was really impressed at the breadth of action CAFOD takes in fighting the corner of those less able to fight for their rights on their own.
For the past four weeks I’ve worked with the Community Fundraising, Campaigns and the Arundel and Brighton departments. No two days have been the same.
I’ve researched venues for a post-marathon reception for the people who run to fundraise for CAFOD, cut out stencils for face-painting at the Greenbelt festival, contacted PR and suitable companies to donate prizes for fundraisers, photocopied and put together hundreds of booklets and information packs, and sent out letters and material requested by diocesan staff or CAFOD and other youth group leaders.
One of the best things about the kind of summer placement I’m doing is that I’m here long enough to see some of my work come to fruition and really get a sense of what its like to work for CAFOD.
There are many ways in which people can volunteer for CAFOD. Personally, I may not have taken the most orthodox route – harassing Martin Brown from the Portsmouth office who had come to mass one Sunday at uni to talk about CAFOD – but volunteers appear to be a key ingredient to the success of CAFOD and everyone I’ve met has been welcoming and helpful.
The best way to get in touch if you are interested in volunteering is to email your diocesan office, or a department you are specifically interested in helping. You needn’t be Catholic, but it does help in certain departments, and all CAFOD asks for is your dedication, enthusiasm and respect of their values and vision.
One month in and I am not half as keen to go back to uni as most of my friends! This is not a reflection on life at university but simply on how much I like my new routine, the people I work with and the tasks they give me to do.
Posted by Lucy Jenkinson, volunteering with CAFOD Arundel & Brighton