Give just a few hours and help improve lives

Angela and Colin Dowling, whose help made Lent Family Fast Day such a success, have both been temporary office volunteers at CAFOD Southwark in Shortlands. They told us about their experience and how you could become a temporary volunteer.  

Angela and Colin Dowling, whose help made Lent Family Fast Day such a success, have both been temporary office volunteer at CAFOD Southwark in Shortlands

Angela and Colin Dowling, whose help made Lent Family Fast Day such a success, have both been temporary office volunteer at CAFOD Southwark in Shortlands

We’d heard about CAFOD’s work to improve the lives of those living in poverty through our church. We already volunteered at a local hospice and dementia café. When an advertisement appeared in our church newsletter asking for short term support for the Lent Family Fast Day project we were able to offer two days a week for six weeks to fit in with our other commitments. It was a great opportunity to offer our time and skills and to learn more about CAFOD.

Come to an Understanding CAFOD day to find out more about short term volunteering

How easy was it to apply as a temporary volunteer?

Very. We contacted the Southwark office and there was as simple application form. As we would be working at a school in Shortlands there was also a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. It took about three weeks in all and then we had a start date. Everyone was really helpful and made the process painless. We could have also been based in Romero House in Waterloo.

Sign-up to volunteer with CAFOD

Did you get support?

Eileen and Marine from the CAFOD Southwark Volunteer  Centre during a Family Fast Day Soup Lunch

Eileen and Marine from the CAFOD Southwark Volunteer Centre during a Family Fast Day Soup Lunch

Yes, lots. We took part in on-line learning and webinars which gave us a good understanding of CAFOD. There was also a safeguarding briefing. Eileen and Marine at the Southwark CAFOD office were very welcoming and friendly and always ready to answer any questions. We were also given very good background briefings.

Was the experience rewarding?

We thoroughly enjoyed it. It was great to dust off some old skills and put our work caps on again. It was good to see the Lent Family Fast Day project from start to finish with clear objectives to aim for. We met some lovely volunteers working on other CAFOD projects such as setting up a dementia café. Marine and Eileen were very supportive but they also let us get on with planning the work and then doing it. We felt trusted and that was great. We learnt such a lot about CAFOD and the geography and structure of our diocese. We’d describe our time on the project like getting a burst of oxygen and have been left with a great respect for the CAFOD’s work.

Would you do it again?

CAFOD Southwark volunteers during a Christmas Lunch

CAFOD Southwark volunteers during a Christmas Lunch

When our CAFOD mentors said they’d like to contact us later in the year about the Harvest Festival Time appeal, we did not say ‘no’!

Said Marine from the Southwark CAFOD office: “Angela and Colin made a huge difference to the success of the project and thanks to them we could contact all the parishes in the diocese of Southwark.”

Your turn to volunteer for a short term

Have you ever thought of volunteering but don’t think you have the time? CAFOD is looking for short term and temporary volunteers. It’s flexible and means even if your precious time is short you can still put your faith into action and make a real difference to world poverty.

These are some of the options you might like to think about:

  • Helping out for a few weeks each year
  • Volunteering for a one-off project such as the Lent Family Fast Day or our Share the Journey campaign
  • Blogging

How do I apply?

Our Southwark Volunteer Centre office would love to hear from you.

and

Come to a discovery day for volunteer to find out more on Saturday 28 April in Romero House – 9:30am till 1pm

From the U.S. to London: my experience as a CAFOD intern

Sidney Magdaong, a CAFOD intern, is a university student from the United States. He has been working for CAFOD for nearly a semester, after which he will return to the US. He describes his experience working for CAFOD.

As a university student from the United States, I made the decision to undertake an internship in London to work as a Parish Events Coordinator for CAFOD. I was ecstatic after accepting the job because I figured it would provide me with a great opportunity to connect with local parishes while in London. In fact, CAFOD gave me just that, and so much more.

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Sidney Magdaong discovering some of London’s featured landmarks

Though I was still adjusting to the urban London environment, CAFOD had me start right away after I arrived. I was a little nervous on my first day (especially since it was my first time using public transport by myself), but the staff and administration were hospitable beyond my expectations. In fact, they helped smooth the transition of adapting to London life.

 

One of the greatest things I gained from working in CAFOD is the expansion of my communication skills and the exposure to several new tasks. I began working as a social media intern, travelling between the headquarters in Shortlands and the offices in Romero House. I learned how to write my first blog as well as how to use Twitter to promote CAFOD events. It took a day or two to get used to, but soon I became proficient in blog-writing and I was able to send out a weekly blog in addition to several Tweets per week. After that, I gained enough experience to handle CAFOD’s monthly e-bulletin.

The majority of my writing and office work centred around Harvest Day, one of CAFOD’s biggest fundraisers. I wrote most of my blogs and Tweets about Fast Day, and I aided in coordinating Mass speakers in different parishes. Sometimes my promotion of Fast Day was in the form of ringing parish priests by asking. After Fast Day, my work shifted to data management involving money donations received from each parish.

Overall, I cannot express how honoured I am to have been a part of CAFOD. In addition to strengthening my communication and networking abilities, I learned so much about global crises and how CAFOD and its partners are responding to these emergencies. In turn, I learned how Catholic Social Teaching can play a tremendous, applicable role in the world and in the local community. As a Christian, I can say that CAFOD has well-informed me of my duties to make a difference, and CAFOD has been an outlet that has allowed me to accomplish just that. Though I will be leaving after this semester, I hope that my role can be passed on to someone who shares the passions that I have encountered here at CAFOD.

That being said, we are looking for 2 office volunteers to undertake this special role. We would like one permanent volunteer who could come to the office once a week  and another short term volunteer who can help out one or two times a week during January and February to focus on the Lent Fast Day Campaign, which will involve working with the data base, making phone calls, and aiding in social media promotion. If you are interested, please contact Southwark Volunteer Centre or call us on 020 8466 9901.

 

Fishing for hope – the hope of our future

 Mick Shepherd is a CAFOD Volunteer from St Joseph in Greenwich. He lives near Norwood Lake. He is sharing with us his experience of how fishing is about hope and how hope is at the core of his volunteering. Mick has a more meaningful understanding of the joy of fishing and the hope of the catch. Here is what he says – 

Peter - a local fisherman at Norwood Lake

Peter our local fisherman is always hopeful of a great catch at Norwood Lake. We too should possess an abundance of hope.

‘Norwood Lake is quite near my house, a large lake teeming with fish and wildlife. I walk there most days but have never understood fishing – I see the same men sitting there every day, lines in the water, waiting for a catch. They always throw the fish back so I think, ‘What’s the point? Why spend every afternoon just sitting, waiting? Then yesterday I got it! – it’s about hope, they are sitting there and they are hoping! In fact, they are full of hope renewed with each day’s fishing!

Without hope, we ware all finished: in the morning we wake up hoping it will be fine; we go shopping, hoping to find the   things we need. We hope that the children have a good day at school (the first thing we ask when they get home): later on, we hope they will pass their exams; we arrange a holiday, hoping it will be sunny: we turn on the TV, hoping to see our favourite programme. When hospitalised and needing an operation, we hope it will be successful(we dread hearing ‘It’s hopeless, there’s no hope of recovery’). In prison, the only thing keeping prisoners alive is the hope that they will gain early release for good behaviour – without hope, imprisonment is a death sentence.

Peter - Bringing in the catch

The hope of the catch is symbolic of life’s hope

Once, I brought a pupil (Kriya, 10) to St. Joseph’s; Kriya was a Hindu, keen to learn about Christianity. He joined the children at Thursday mass while I led them in song. Afterwards I took him round the church, showing him the stations of the Cross and the statues. Afterwards he said ‘Mick, I think your religion is very sad’ (indicating Jesus on the Cross) ‘Hinduism is very joyful’.

I explained that the Cross was not the end of the story but its beginning, a symbol of hope, love and forgiveness , the empty Cross and empty tomb the ‘sure hope’ that Christians believed in.

 

Peter the Fisherman

Peter says that this lake is a peaceful sanctuary and so we are encouraged to always be peaceful and hopeful in life.

The work of CAFOD is based on giving people hope in some of the poorest and most deprived areas of the world: the old adage is true, ‘Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day: teach a man how to fish, and you will feed him for a lifetime’. And this is precisely the approach adopted by CAFOD, one of giving people the wherewithal and the means to enable them to provide for themselves, their families and their communities. This enabling help gives people new hope, and this is why I continue to support CAFOD and its wonderful work.

The next time I walk round Norwood Lake, I shall have more understanding, not just of fishing but of the ‘sure hope’ we Christians all share’.

For hope – Proverbs 13:12 says ‘… is a desire fulfilled – is a tree of life’. We at CAFOD help our brothers and sisters to achieve their desires, which is like a tree ‘planted by the rivers of waters’. Refreshing waters that makes our desires bloom in the hope of the now and the hope of a better future –  what a catch is hope!

If you wish to volunteer for CAFOD, please take a look at the various roles on our website or call us at the Southwark Volunteer Center 020-8466-9901.