Volunteering with CAFOD – Rebecca shares a student’s perspective

QTEvent1My favourite quote is the Chinese proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This belief underpins my philosophy in life and I feel that the best way to help people is to give them the tools and skills to be able to independently live a good quality of life. I’m currently at University training to be an Occupational Therapist which will give me the skills to help people in this way. I also think that this proverb sums up the work that CAFOD does so well. They provide our brothers and sisters overseas with the resources to independently maintain a better quality of life for themselves and their families.

(Rebecca far left, with other student volunteers)

I first started supporting CAFOD when I was at school and I got involved with fundraising events. I was really interested in the work they do and the fact that they didn’t just provide emergency aid but looked at the bigger picture and how things such as climate change can have such a big effect on those who are poor.

I have always wanted to be more involved with the campaigning side of things but didn’t think I had the confidence to do so. However, when I came to York to study I made friends with a girl who volunteered for CAFOD Middlesbrough and she encouraged me to get involved too.

One of the first things I did with CAFOD Middlesbrough was go down to CAFOD’s head office in London to learn a little bit more about CAFOD and their latest campaigns. My friend Lisa and I came away excited and enthusiastic and decided to hold two card signing events at our Student’s Union for the Don’t Drop the Ball On Climate Change and then later on for Thirst For Change campaigns. Before these events I hadn’t done anything like this before and was amazed with how supportive and keen to get involved the students were and this gave me the confidence and enthusiasm to keep on campaigning.

The next thing I did with the other student volunteers and support from Carol was organise a Climate Change Question Time event at York University  as part of CAFOD’s Don’t Drop the Ball on Climate Change campaign which was a really interesting evening that was well attended and a great success.

I always enjoy meeting and working with other CAFOD volunteers from different parts of the country. Last October I went to Manchester to the Thirst for Change energiser day and afterwards had the privilege of joining hundreds of people from CAFOD , Christian Aid and Tearfund to be climate witnesses for the world’s poorest people at the Conservative Party Conference. Together we called on David Cameron to commit to his ‘greenest government ever’ pledge by leading international efforts to support the poorest. It was a really interesting day which ended with a beautiful candlelit vigil in the heart of Manchester to remind those in power that as Christians, it is our duty to stand up against injustice.

During the summer I volunteered with CAFOD at Vfestival. For the last few years CAFOD has had a stall at V and this year we promoted their latest campaign “Hungry for Change” and got over 1500 signatures on a petition to David Cameron to bring up the issue of hunger at the G8 summit next year.

For me the best thing about working at Vfestival was spreading the word about CAFOD and getting the opportunity to tell such a large number of people about the campaign, even the cynical. One man came to the stall, and before I could say anything he said to me “You can tell me what you’re doing but I’m not signing anything”. So I explained about the campaign and five minutes later he was signing the petition and calling his wife over to sign it too!

This is my biggest achievement so far and highlights just how far I have come from the shy girl I was when I first got involved with CAFOD.Last month I even had the confidence to attend the Fairtrade supporters conference in London on my own and was very proud to represent CAFOD and promote their latest campaign, Hungry for Change. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few years volunteering with CAFOD and am looking forward to continuing to do so.

Rebecca Ford

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