CAFOD BREAKFAST TALK IN CRAWLEY

With just over a month to go, it’s time to get ready for Harvest Family Fast Day. Join us for coffee, croissants and a Harvest Fast Day briefing. Also an opportunity to hear from Naomi Dring CAFOD’s Programme Support Officer for Peru, Bolivia & Colombia talk about how they are responding to climate change and other environmental issues. Find out more about what you can do to change lives with CAFOD’s help. Do join us.

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

CAFOD National Volunteer Event 8th June 2019

The first week in June is designated Volunteer Week in the UK. As part of the CAFOD celebrations two national events on the 8th (London) & 15th June (Manchester) were organised to thank and encourage existing volunteers. As a new volunteer of less than one year’s service I was interested and curious to experience the event on 8th June at Westminster Cathedral Hall.  Living in East Sussex this was for me an easy to reach venue but I was surprised and delighted to learn that some volunteers had travelled from more distant places like the Isle of Wight and Swansea and some had come from more northern parts of the country. This gave me a sense of the CAFOD ‘extended family’ that exists.

One of the highlights of the day for me came from listening to Christine Allen the recently appointed Director at CAFOD. Christine takes up her role not only with the experience of her previous charity organisations but having many years ago worked for CAFOD. As I listened to Christine I got the message that she was pleased to be back with the ‘family’. She also mentioned how important and privileged it was for CAFOD to have some 6000 plus volunteers to share in the work in parishes and schools to create a fairer and more just world.

Another highlight for me was when a long-term volunteer of 40 years service was honoured with a Papal Blessing. She was obviously a lot younger than me when she began her volunteer work so I don’t think I can top her record! It was good to be present to witness such committed service.

CAFOD wants to reach everyone where support is needed but insufficient funds means that only 2 out of 3 requests can be met. We listened to 3 members of the International Team pitch for their projects. At each table in the hall we then discussed the merits of the projects with a view to deciding which one would be the one we couldn’t support due to lack of money. This was very difficult as each was worthy of funding. A consensus was reached in the room and this was an example of the daily challenge for the CAFOD team. These were real projects where a decision had already been made by the International Team.

If we want to change the world we need to be able to tell the story well because there is power in personal and corporate stories. This is what we heard in the ‘Telling Your Story’ workshop. We told our stories to each other – how we became involved with CAFOD – and gave feedback on what we saw, felt and thought as each person spoke. This exercise was then used to read and reflect on some of CAFOD’s stories of overseas work. As we reflect on other people’s stories they begin to integrate with our story. How can we share these stories with those in our parishes and schools to create a culture of encounter as opposed to indifference?

As the day came to an end we said goodbye to our fellow volunteers with the expectation that we would meet again at a future training or event day.

Why not consider volunteering for CAFOD? We need people to help deliver the message throughout the diocese. There are many different volunteering opportunities for people in England and Wales with different skills to offer – including: volunteering in parishes, schools, campaigning, corresponding with MPs working in the office and writing prayers. For further information look on our website in the volunteering section.

Isabel Cameron

Campaign Volunteer Coordinator and School Volunteer for CAFOD Arundel and Brighton