Growing Spiritually

Woman standing outside
Melani, 17, CAFOD Office Volunteer

Hello Everyone, 

It has been my third time here volunteering for CAFOD Southwark and let me tell you, Southwark diocese has been so welcoming and so heart-warming these past couple of days. You’re probably wondering who I am…  

Well let me introduce myself, 

My name is Melani and I am 17 years old, a current sixth former studying Physics, Spanish and Textiles. Some of my interest would be painting, styling clothes and visiting new places like famous landmarks or different countries and finding out more about the history behind it. I consider myself as a very creative person and love getting myself involved with as many things as I can. I am not afraid to try out new things and learn from my mistakes. 

Interested in Volunteering Opportunities? Find out more

Marble Side Building
Red gallery picture

Some Creative things I’ve done so far have been attending a fashion summer school where I was able to start making a garment, based on a protest theme that interested me. I decided to focus it on Women’s bodies (body expectations/ body shaming). During the summer I’ve been visiting as many places in London that are aesthetically pleasing but also historical for my textiles project where I am investigating interior/exterior buildings or places.


From a young age I always heard about CAFOD and the many ways of getting involved with them, whether it be donating money to them using small money boxes or getting involved in a fundraiser. 

Interested in donating to CAFOD? Donate online

When my school gave me a chance to volunteer. I immediately knew that CAFOD was where I wanted to be this summer. The reason I chose CAFOD was because since the 1960s they have always helped people in great poverty, no matter their skin colour, beliefs or background. I feel like especially today where the pandemic has hit everyone, across the world very hard, CAFOD is still out there helping as many people and families as they can. This is why this summer I would like to help out at CAFOD and know that through a big or small way I have helped a family or person in poverty.  

What have you enjoyed at CAFOD?

So far, I have enjoyed my volunteering experience and learnt how to use knew software. CAFOD staff overall have been so welcoming and gave me a tour of the building where I got to learn new facts about how they made sure the building was ecofriendly. I have been helping out with harvest day focusing on the theme of climate change where our aim is to raise money to help communities like Ivanilde’s, who is a woman from Brazil and has had people burning her crops and the amazon rainforest too.  

Find our more about Harvest Fast Day and Ivanilde’s Story here.

Poster on climate change

From these past couple of days, I have decided that I would like to continue volunteering and hopefully make a difference not only physically but grow spiritually too. 

Inspired by Melani’s Story? Sign up to volunteer

Connecting with Faith and Creativity through CAFOD

Jessica uses her wonderful creative skills to inspire others and share CAFOD’s work.

Meet Jessica Garcia, one of our fantastic social media volunteers, living in London. She shares how working with CAFOD has reminded her that change for good is always possible, and how volunteering has allowed her creative juices to flow and reconnect her to her Catholic faith.

Hi Jessica. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m Jessica Garcia and I’m from Spain. I’m 28 years old. I am currently a freelance journalist and creative and work in a restaurant. I’ve just finished my studies in development at Westminster University in London.

How have you been involved with CAFOD?

Due to my studies and professional background, I have been helping CAFOD on social media platforms, especially on Twitter.

What first attracted you to CAFOD?

I would say two things combined together. First, CAFOD represents my faith and secondly, I studied development so my aim was to work with an organisation dedicated to global development. However, the fact of Catholic faith was very important for me, as I am not doing it in a professional way, but in a personal/spiritual way too.

What’s been the best thing about volunteering for CAFOD?

I was able to reconnect with my faith, as well as using my skills and creativity to spread CAFOD’s work and goals. The fact that I am free (within the norms) to use different pictures, videos, gifs, etc. it makes it more refreshing, as we need to attract more youth to keep our work going on, until we can eradicate the injustices other communities suffer.

What are some of your best memories?

I would say that coming from an African and Spanish background, all the online talks about South America or Africa were really refreshing to me. I have learned a lot from people working in country offices, and also with partners that work with CAFOD.

We want to thank you for the tremendous contribution you have made to CAFOD’s work.

The pleasure is mine. CAFOD has helped me to regain that empathy that seemed lost because of how the world works nowadays. It was important for me to remember my Catholic values and to never give up on humanity. There are great souls around us. However, TV and social media has made us believe the human race is evil. So a lot of people like me, ended up thinking nothing would get better. CAFOD was a key element to remind me change is possible and the light always shines.

​​​​​​​Thank you CAFOD, and the amazing people in the Southwark Team that guided me everyday Marine, Sarah and Celeste

Did you enjoy knowing more about Jessica and her volunteering role?

Meet more of our Volunteers and find out about all our volunteering opportunities.

Write to a newspaper and make a difference for climate change.

David Murray is a CAFOD volunteer and a climate activist from Wallington. David’s activism ranges from lobbying his local council to sharing CAFOD with young people in secondary schools. One of his skills and way to tackle climate change is writing letters to Newspapers. Today he is sharing with us some tips and examples.

David Murray uses word to fight Climate change

Besides working for CAFOD, what do all these people have in common? Christine Allen, CAFOD director, her predecessor, Chris Bain, Anne Lindsay, Graham Gordon head of public policy and Hombeline Dulière, Syria crisis emergency programme manager? They’ve all written, and had published, letters to the papers concerning CAFOD’s work.

You don’t need a Lord title to get published!

To get published it helps to have a title such as company or NGO director, Doctor, PhD or medical, Lord or MP. But getting CAFOD mentioned is hard. So retired CAFOD volunteer, Mike McLoughlin, and I, both left-wing and untitled, write letters on politics and issues, such as economics, trade, poverty and climate change, relevant to CAFOD’s work and it gets published, see example below. When I quote I provide a reference.  

Making progress in fight against climate emergency
Campaigners are right to demand “Sutton Council declare a “climate emergency””. But from, in 2014, having no specific climate change adaptation programme or action plan in place relating directly to the key deliverables identified in the Borough’s Climate Change Adaptation Strategy, due to a lack of available resources, Sutton Council, on paper at least, has made considerable strides.
The Borough’s strategy is consistent with the Mayor of London’s environment strategy which aims for a zero carbon city by 2050. However, although London’s greenhouse gas emissions are falling, the London Environment Strategy admits “the city remains over-reliant on the fossil fuels that are a major contributor to global warming. London is not yet on track to reduce its emissions quickly enough to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, or to meet national and international climate aims.” Clearly the campaigners need to keep up the pressure.
David Murray – SUTTON GUARDIAN – 11 April 2019
Read CAFOD news to find topics to raise in Newspapers

Keep it short and simple

Short letters do best – ideally 100 words or less. The Sun taught me a lesson. I sent a 332 word monster to get the subject off my chest, thinking they’ll never publish. They published after cutting it to 45 words! The Guardian rarely publishes a letter over 250 words and, for a chance of appearing the following day, should arrive no later than 2pm. I used to wonder why The Guardian asked for my phone number until they phoned  to say they were considering my letter for publication the following day. Sadly since Covid-19 that’s very rare. Example below :

Why do journalists confuse “paid” and “earned”? The Pakistani workers who were paid 29p an hour for making Boohoo clothes earned a lot more but others including the customers took their earnings. By contrast bankers are paid millions that they do not earn. If these words were used properly in the media it would be a small step towards an understanding of equality and fairness.
Michael McLoughlin
The Guardian 23 December 2020
Read about our latest Campaign and contact your local newspaper to raise the issue

Email get a greater chance to be published

Email is favoured. Just Google, e.g. ‘Contact us The Guardian’ for the email address for Letters.  The same Goggle works for most newspapers and journals. Both Mike and I send to The Guardian and the London Evening Standard. I also send to the New Statesman; Mike to Catholic papers.

You write that “Poorer countries, which broadly speaking are the least to blame for the climate crisis – emitting less carbon dioxide per capita – will suffer most” (Editorial, 1 August). As overseas development charities like Cafod witness every day, there is no “will” about it. Poor people in poorer countries have been suffering the effects of climate change for many years. A 2013 DfID-funded paper found: “This analysis provides evidence that a drought in East Africa such as seen in 2011 has become more probable as a result of anthropogenic climate change.” The drought affected 10 million people in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Many of whom would have migrated, some possibly to Europe.
David Murray
Wallington, Surrey – 6 August 2019
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