5 Minutes With…. Becky Such

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We caught up with Becky Such, Individual Giving Executive aka World Gifts Coordinator at CAFOD, to find out what World Gifts is all about, what the most popular gifts are and how your giving this Christmas can make a positive impact in someone else’s life.

1. What’s your name?

Becky Such

2. What is your role?

I’m an Individual Giving Executive with responsibility for World Gifts, although I often call myself World Gifts Coordinator, as that’s a bit simpler!

3. How long have you been in this position?

I started June 2018.

4. What is the best thing about your role?

My role is so varied. From sourcing new gifts and case studies, to coming up with new ways we can improve World Gifts and actually making it happen each year. Hearing how individuals, schools and parishes have all fundraised – it’s really rewarding that way. Ithink I’m really lucky having the positive examples of our work that make up World Gifts, the new visuals this year have also been really fun to see and develop with the illustrator! Plus, a big focus for World Gifts is Christmas, and I really love the season, so that’s a win-win really.

5. What is World Gifts?

World Gifts is CAFOD’s virtual giving scheme. Back when it started in 2003, it was one of the first virtual gift schemes out there. We wanted to find a way for people to tangibly engage with our work and support CAFOD around Christmas, and so World Gifts was born. World Gifts is arguably for everyone – mainly individuals buy them as gifts for their loved ones, but schools and parishes do fundraise to either buy one more expensive gift, or lots of less expensive gifts. Although World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD, it’s also a great way to hear about different areas of our work. Even people who work at CAFOD say they didn’t realise some of the things we do when they read a World Gifts case study.

6. What are the most popular World Gifts and why?

The most popular gifts change a little each year, but some of the firm favourites are Teach someone to read, Water for a family and Happy queen bee. The Keep clean kit, new this year, is also proving very popular. I think these gifts are well-liked because they’re easy to understand. Here in the UK we can take for granted having the opportunity to learn to read, or access to clean running water, but everyone can appreciate how vital these are. With the Happy queen bee gift I think partly it’s because it’s our bargain gift, at just £4, but also because everyone loves bees!

7. How has the pandemic affected World Gifts this year?

I think people are turning to World Gifts more than they normally would. Perhaps because most of us can’t go out shopping at the moment. Or because many of us have reassessed what’s important to us this year, so a charity gift seems the best thing to give. The website has certainly seen a lot more orders coming through as people turn more and more to online ways to support CAFOD.

From a group fundraising perspective, I think it has been really challenging. We normally send out batches of World Gifts catalogues to parishes all over England and Wales, but with lockdown restrictions, we’ve had to postpone that in England. But I have heard about schools and parishes still managing to fundraise, sometimes converting their usual activities into virtual ones. People have really used their imagination, which is brilliant. And I know people see World Gifts as quite an uplifting thing to engage with at this difficult time.

8. What have been the highlights for World Gifts this year?

Launching our new look has been a real highlight. Not only was this an immense achievement for everyone involved considering the extra challenges of working remotely, but we’ve also had really positive feedback.

Launching our “Post direct” option on the website. This allows people to provide us with a personalised message which we will print in their card and post directly to their loved one. In a year where there is so much uncertainty around who we will be able to see, I really hope that this option helps people to feel a bit more connected.

9. How can we get involved?

Buy a World Gift! You can see the full range at cafod.org.uk/worldgifts or you can order via the catalogue if you’ve got your hands on one of those. Already done that? You could see if anyone in your parish or school wants to fundraise for World Gifts. Or you could just spread the word, whether on social media, in your parish bulletin or just chatting to your friends. We know the more people who hear about World Gifts, the better! I also know that right now is a really hard time financially for a lot of people. World Gifts start from just £4, but they’re also available all year round. So if you can’t buy a World Gift now, you can always do it for another occasion.

Margaret’s walking for CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal

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CAFOD parish volunteer Margaret contacted me recently to tell me what she has been doing quietly. At first she said, ” I don’t want any publicity and I certainly don’t want a visit from the BBC!”, (although she wouldn’t mind meeting Charlie from breakfast tv)!

Later she agreed I could share it!

She told me, “Of course like everyone else I really miss meeting people at Church….. I meet many people each day on my daily walks pushing my rollator around Linthorpe! I was ahead of Captain Tom celebrating his 100th birthday and I know that he was able to raise millions for the NHS. I’ve decided to raise funds for the CAFOD appeal and each day I’m going to put some money in a CAFOD box and at the end of all this that money is for the appeal.”

What a marvellous idea! Keep up the great effort Margaret!

Is there anything you are doing to support our Coronavirus appeal that you’d like to share with us – we’d love to hear from you! Join our coronavirus appeal today

CAFOD Volunteer Meetings in February

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Our Volunteer meetings will take place during this month.

Tuesday 11th February in the Father Kelly room at Our Lady’s, Cornlands Road,  Acomb, York from 11:30 – 1:30pm.

Tuesday 18th February at St Anthony’s Church, Beverley Road, Hull from 12:30 – 2:30pm.

Thursday 27th February at the Curial Offices, 50a The Avenue, Linthorpe Middlesbrough from 12:00 – 2:00pm.

Please tell us if you are coming and feel free to bring a friend along with you!

Teenage campaigner inspires community to come together

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Jodie explains some of the issues that need addressing

A 14-year-old from Driffield has organised a series of environmental events and workshops to help her community learn more about the effects of climate change,

With support from her local CAFOD parish volunteer, Ethna Connell, young Jodie Lidster has been rallying the parishioners at her local church to get involved with a campaign to tackle climate change by making small changes in their everyday lives.

“Climate change is a big problem to society because we are killing all living things on the earth like trees, flowers and sea creatures,” said Jodie, who volunteers with the Catholic international development charity CAFOD.

“There are droughts and flooding and people are suffering. And we don’t know that it’s happened because we have done so much damage.

“Litter is a huge problem. It travels all over to the other side of the world just to be dumped in the poorest countries, it’s not fair. What’s even more unfair is that they have to fish it up and walk through it just to look for food and drink.”

“I want to help. I want my parish to help me to help.”

Jodie started by making a massive poster for the church hall and got the children’s group at church involved by playing games around the theme of the environment.

The determined youngster then decided to organise a plant and produce sale, which included information stalls to help local people to learn more about the effects of climate change.

Jodie said: “When we asked the people from the parish for help, they came with local plants, vegetables, and eggs from my grandma’s chickens. People made jams from homegrown fruit and one of our young readers at church and her mum made biscuits and they sold so quickly.

“We got support from the children’s church group, who showed and explained how we can all help in our own world. Our youngest church reader, who is seven years old, taught us to recycle plastic to make bird feeders.”

In addition to campaigning about climate change, Jodie also used her skills to fundraise to help install a disabled ramp at her church.

“Because many of our friends are old and frail and others have disabilities and some use wheelchairs, we had a problem as there are steps into our church,” said Jodie. “So, we all decided to help raise money to have a ramp for easier access into the church and to help people feel independent and welcome.

“With the sale, we raised a little money and decided to share this between the disabled ramp and CAFOD, who are campaigning to tackle climate change as part of their ‘Our Common Home’ campaign.”

This event was one of many inspired by CAFOD’s ‘Our Common Home’ campaign and organised by CAFOD volunteers around the country. It is hoped the events will highlight the growing concern for the environment and start new conversations about climate change. 

Find out more about CAFOD’s campaigns at cafod.org.uk/campaign

St Mary’s Cathedral leads the way

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With grateful thanks to Don for this report on the first Creation campaign event.

Don prepares to collect signatures for our petition from parishioners

As the result of the positive response by Mgr. Gerard Robinson, Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral, to CAFOD’s Creation Celebration campaign, the Mass at the Cathedral on the morning of 19 May 2019, the fifth Sunday of Easter, incorporated hymns and prayers that celebrated God’s creation.

The Mass was celebrated by Fr Richard Marsden, who, in his introduction, explained the Mass as having a special focus on the Care of Creation and he reminded the congregation to keep that intention in their prayers.

In his homily, the Rev Ken Senior, the Cathedral deacon, spoke of the ‘vastness of God’s love’ and pointed out ‘One of the ways that God has shown his love for us all is by giving us a fantastic world in which to live. Sadly, partly through lack of knowledge, and partly through things out of our control, we have done many things to harm our world.

This is something Pope Francis has become acutely aware of and deeply concerned about. So much so that he wrote an encyclical on the subject, Laudato Si’, his message being that we need to care for our planet and to do everything possible to reverse the damage we have done. So, as we think about how we love those around us, we also need to think about our love for future generations and for the legacy that we will leave them.’

The Children’s Liturgy Group studied St Francis’s Canticle of Creation and considered why God’s creation is so special and what we can do to look after it. The children read out the following prayer to the whole congregation: “Dear Lord, help us to see your beauty and likeness in all created things, so that we may follow St Francis in showing care for creation. Amen.”

Before the final blessing, Don Lillistone, the parish CAFOD representative, spoke of the Creation Celebration campaign and encouraged parishioners to sign CAFOD’s petition asking the Government to commit to a net zero greenhouse emissions reduction target by 2045.

After Mass, Carol Cross, CAFOD Community Participation Coordinator for the Diocese of Middlesbrough, helped Teresa Lyth, the Chair of the Cathedral Justice and Peace group and other members of the group to deal with the enthusiastic response to the petition and to answer any queries. 112 parishioners signed the petition.   

Parishioner’s showing their concern for Our Common Home, eagerly signing the petition.

Weathering the changes on the Humber Bridge Cross

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Smiles of anticipation as we waited to set off

The sun was shining brightly and the birds were singing as Christian Aid and CAFOD volunteers set off for the annual Humber Bridge Cross. There were many friendly faces greeting us as we passed each other walking to the Barton side. You could see for miles all around from the elevated vantage of the bridge as we made the first crossing. I think Sam the dog could sense a change was coming!

Refreshments on the Barton side, Sam the dog was eager to get going again!

The thing about walking across the Humber Bridge is you are exposed to the elements. Grey clouds were descending as we set off again, soon turning into a heavy downpour driven by a gusty wind! Bernard was walking with the aid of two sticks when we met Margaret, who’d left her coat at home but bravely continued the first cross and lapped us on the way back to the Hessle side! For us, it was a real case of heads down into the wind and endure the torrent until it abated – we were soaked through!

A little rain didn’t dampen their spirits – Margaret and Bernard smiled through!

As we got back to where we started, the rain stopped and the sun came back out! The other walkers had already left for home as we claimed our certificates from Teresa and Norah and bid farewell to the friendly teams in the registration tent as they packed up for another year. No doubt we’ll be back to do it all again next year!

Come along with us on our ‘Journey to the Manger’ …

Do you remember back in July, when over one thousand of you from as far as Australia, ‘walked’ with us on our virtual pilgrimage to Holy Island? 

The virtual pilgrimage was one of the most humbling moments from our year at CAFOD here in the North East. We felt strength and solidarity knowing there were so many of you alongside us in prayer and reflection each day.  

We would love for you to join us on another journey: our Journey to the Manger. 

From 29 November, join us live every Sunday for some simple and peaceful prayer and reflection as we share our Advent journey together. We will gather around a candle and be gently led in a time of prayer.  

Invite your friends, family, housemates, colleagues! Everyone is welcome to join for a moment of calm at an increasingly busy time of year. 

No need for a computer camera or microphone or worrying about what to say. Just register through the link below then come back to this link every Sunday of Advent and on Epiphany (Wednesday 6th January).  

The prayer will start at 6pm and run for less than half an hour. Do invite a friend or two, it’s nice to share the journey with others. 

Register now to journey with us here: https://www.bigmarker.com/series/advent/series_summit