1) Who are you?
I’m currently a student just finished at St Thomas More Catholic Upper School in Bedford and about to start my first year at university in London to study politics. I am a volunteer for CAFOD in my parish (Holy Cross – Bedford) and part of the newly set up CAFOD group in Bedford which comprises 5 churches.
2) What are your interests?
Besides being a keen football supporter (and a very proud one at that, given Watfords recent promotion!) and an avid reader, I have a real interest in international politics, and specifically international development. I love learning about other cultures, the history surrounding other countries and the nuances of the various regional customs around the globe.
3) Why have you become a CAFOD Volunteer and what have you done in your role?
It sounds almost cliché, but I wanted to make a difference! It’s all very well being outraged at the injustices in the world, and offering an armchair analysis of how to fight poverty in developing nations, but I wanted to put my Catholic sense of morality into action. The first thing I did as a volunteer was to attend a supporters’ day, to develop my own understanding of what CAFOD does in its fight for overseas development. From there, I was able to give a short talk in my local parish to raise awareness for our Lenten Fast Day. I helped organise several fundraising events; this ranged from an afternoon tea in Kempston alongside our fantastic Bedford group of CAFOD volunteers, to a local community morning in Brickhill, helping to engage with the local community and sixth formers at St Thomas More in order to raise awareness for CAFODs work. Since the beginning of the year, the Bedford area has generously raised over £2,500 thanks to a combination of our Lenten appeal and local fundraising events, and I’m proud to have been a part of this.
4) How have you inspired your school to take action?
I’ve worked closely with my school to try to promote the work that CAFOD does, not only through fundraising, but by ensuring that students and teachers alike understand the vital work that our charity does in the developing world. Most recently, we held a CAFOD morning for sixth formers and local residents to help students and residents of the nearby area engage in a dialogue about why we need to combat global social injustice. It was a way of getting a local community to meet and tackle problems faced in our global community, and it’s through events like this that we can really start to get more young people engaged with CAFODs work!
5) What do you hope to do and why?
After university, I’m hoping to go on and work in international development, possibly in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or perhaps as part of an NGO. For me, we all have a duty to help those most in need in the world, whether it’s by donating to charities like CAFOD and promoting their work, or actually going to the areas most affected by poverty and global injustices, and working on the ground with real people. Whatever the future brings, I’ll continue to be an avid supporter of CAFOD and all of its work, and look forward to continuing to help with fundraising efforts in the Diocese of Northampton and beyond.
6) What have you got to say about people getting in touch with their MPs?
As someone who’s worked with their local MP both in Westminster and at the local constituency office, I can’t stress how important it is to lobby your local MP! A lot of people think the only dialogue you have with a Member of Parliament comes when there’s an election on, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I would encourage people to post a letter or email to your local representative and ask them what they’re doing to combat global poverty, or to fight climate change. If you’re a little braver, arrange to spend the day with your MP either in your constituency or in Westminster. Members of Parliament are always willing to meet with a potential voter over lunch and discuss the issues. Even if it’s just signing a petition, like CAFOD’s recent petition to David Cameron on Climate Change, opening a dialogue with your representative in Parliament really helps to push CAFOD’s work onto the agenda at Westminster.
I’m looking forward to talking to supporters in Milton Keynes on 19 September about the role we can all play in lobbying our MPs; I really hope that the work being done by CAFOD can inspire all of us to bring our fight against climate change, and against global poverty, to the forefront of the political agenda in Britain.