CAFOD volunteer Miriam McEneaney from St. Lawrence’s Parish, Feltham; shares her experience of volunteering and being inspired by and building relationships with her fellow volunteers.
Getting hooked on volunteering
I have been volunteering with CAFOD for a few years now. It was when my children had left school and I was no longer involved in school or scout committees. I wanted to get involved in something where I could put my faith into action. I went to an Understanding CAFOD day and I was hooked. The first thing that struck me about volunteering for CAFOD was how flexible it was. It was something I could fit around my normal working week.
I started out by being an MPC (MP Correspondent). This involved writing to my MP about three times a year requesting their support on various petitions. I then volunteered to be a roaming speaker. I would speak at various Churches during the Lent and Harvest appeals where they do not have a CAFOD presence.
Finding a family at CAFOD
The next step in my CAFOD journey was when I became a Campaign Volunteer Co-ordinator for parts of the Westminster and West Southwark Diocese. The role is very varied and you get as much out of it as you put into it. It involves liaising with all the wonderful Campaign Volunteers, keeping them up to date with what’s happening and encouraging them to spread the word in their parishes. Obviously, emails are an important part in communication but a few times a year, I really like to phone around. This was particularly important during lockdown. So many people were really pleased to get the call – especially if they were living alone. It really struck me that CAFOD is a family and we should all be looking out for each other. I know I always felt motivated after each call and I hope the Campaign Volunteer did too. When I first started to phone the Campaign Volunteers, it was a bit daunting. Now, it is like catching up with friends. There is also a sense of freedom because I am asking for time and not money. If ever I have a question, there is always support from Tony and Marine, my two Community Participation Co-ordinators.
Inspired by campaigning
In the past few years, we have had some very inspiring campaigns – Power to Be, Generations Unite, Enough Food for Everyone IF, One Climate One World, Responding to the Refugee Crisis – to name but a few.
In my latest phone calls, I was encouraging all Campaign Volunteers to take part (and spread the word) about the Faith in Action Day on 14th November. This virtual day will literally embody all previous petitions – how we can look to build a better world from the Covid crisis. It was really encouraging to have so many people signing up.
The next focus was to get as many people as possible involved in Messages to the Brave. A lot of us are probably feeling a bit down because of lockdown but just imagine what it is like fighting for Justice and freedom and putting your life at risk. When you discuss topics like this with other Campaign Volunteers, it grounds you and makes you appreciate all that we have.
Being part of a bigger picture
It never ceases to amaze me the efforts some Campaign Volunteers go to. One parish, in particular, are aiming for their Live Simply Award. They had a Care for Creation Month. Some of the activities included showing “Climate Change – The Facts” together with the film “The Boy who Harnessed the Wind”, a visit to Western Riverside Recycling Centre, a Parish Creation Quiz Night, an Ethical Fashion Night and a Care for Creation Fair. It is just brilliant to hear stories like this and pass them on to others. It can really encourage.
From my experience, it is clear that if we all work together and a lot of people do a little, we end up doing an awful lot! My role as Campaign Volunteer Co-ordinator is just a small part of this bigger picture!