I first became aware of CAFOD in 2009 just before I was about to go to University. I have always had a firm belief in social justice and the need to help those less fortunate than yourself but until I was put in touch with Carol Cross, the dioceses manager for Middlesbrough, I had never done anything worthwhile with these beliefs. Right from the beginning of my volunteering at CAFOD I was made to feel very welcome. More than this I was given the confidence that I would be able to help raise awareness of CAFOD.
Volunteering at CAFOD has given me wonderful opportunities such as attending events at Parliament and helping to organise a number of events. I have been lucky enough to be involved in two very different but equally rewarding events during my time as a volunteer. The first event was a Question Time panel discussion held on the University of York’s campus. With Carol’s guidance and direction myself and three other volunteers began planning the event, with the hope of securing MPs and representatives from the main political Parties. At first it proved tricky trying to pin down all of our targeted guests to commit to one date due to their demanding schedules. After a few set-backs we managed to secure a strong panel which included: John Battle (former MP), Julian Sturdy MP, Baroness Afshar and the former York Council leader Andrew Waller. The event proved to be a great success with both York St John and University of York students in good attendance. The event helped to raise awareness of CAFOD in both Universities, we wanted to make sure as many people as possible heard and understood the great work CAFOD does and the role they play in helping to tackle global poverty.
The organising of our event for Thirst for Change was very different to that of the Question Time event. Carol suggested we organise a card signing event at our respective Universities. Unlike the Question Time event, rather than having to constantly go back and forth arranging dates with guests, we instead had a different challenge, to find the most effective place on our campuses to communicate the campaign to the students and secure a large amount of signatures. We had also planned on having a card signing in the City centre, but unfortunately this was rained off. This, rather than knock us back, spurred us on as we felt more motivated to secure more signatures on campus. The campaign was a roaring success, combined we managed to have around 1000 campaign cards signed and plenty of tear drops signed too!
I am very proud to have been involved in both campaigns and have a real sense of achievement, not just because of the personal skills I acquired as a result, but also knowing I have helped CAFOD, however small, by raising awareness of the amazing work they do across the world. I hope to be involved in promoting CAFODs for many years to come and would strongly encourage anyone to do so as well.