5 Minutes With…Becky Such

We caught up with Becky Such, Individual Giving Executive aka World Gifts Coordinator at CAFOD, to find out what World Gifts is all about, what the most popular gifts are and how your giving this Christmas can make a positive impact in someone else’s life.

Becky is coordinator for CAFOD’s virtual gifts scheme for Christmas

What’s your name? Becky Such

What is your role? I’m an Individual Giving Executive with responsibility for World Gifts, although I often call myself World Gifts Coordinator, as that’s a bit simpler

What is World Gifts? (summary of history/background, who it’s for, aims etc)
World Gifts is CAFOD’s virtual giving scheme. Back when it started in 2003, it was one of the first virtual gift schemes out there. We wanted to find a way for people to tangibly engage with our work and support CAFOD around Christmas, and so World Gifts was born. World Gifts is arguably for everyone – mainly individuals buy them as gifts for their loved ones, but schools and parishes do fundraise to either buy one more expensive gift, or lots of less expensive gifts. Although World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD, it’s also a great way to hear about different areas of our work. Even people who work at CAFOD say they didn’t realise some of the things we do when they read a World Gifts case study.

Discover World Gift catalogue

World Gifts is a fun way to support CAFOD

What is the best thing about your role?
My role is so varied. From sourcing new gifts and case studies, to coming up with new ways we can improve World Gifts and actually making it happen each year. Hearing how individuals, schools and parishes have all fundraised – it’s really rewarding that way. I think I’m really lucky having the positive examples of our work that make up World Gifts, the new visuals this year have also been really fun to see and develop with the illustrator! Plus, a big focus for World Gifts is Christmas, and I really love the season, so that’s a win-win really.

Teach Someone to read with World Gifts

What are the most popular World Gifts and why?
The most popular gifts change a little each year, but some of the firm favourites are Teach someone to read, Water for a family and Happy queen bee. The Keep clean kit, new this year, is also proving very popular. I think these gifts are well-liked because they’re easy to understand. Here in the UK we can take for granted having the opportunity to learn to read, or access to clean running water, but everyone can appreciate how vital these are. With the Happy queen bee gift I think partly it’s because it’s our bargain gift, at just £4, but also because everyone loves bees!

Keeping Clean Kit World Gifts

How has the pandemic affected World Gifts this year?
I think people are turning to World Gifts more than they normally would. Perhaps because most of us can’t go out shopping at the moment. Or because many of us have reassessed what’s important to us this year, so a charity gift seems the best thing to give. The website has certainly seen a lot more orders coming through as people turn more and more to online ways to support CAFOD.

From a group fundraising perspective, I think it has been really challenging. We normally send out batches of World Gifts catalogues to parishes all over England and Wales, but with lockdown restrictions, we’ve had to postpone that in England. But I have heard about schools and parishes still managing to fundraise, sometimes converting their usual activities into virtual ones. People have really used their imagination, which is brilliant. And I know people see World Gifts as quite an uplifting thing to engage with at this difficult time.

What have been the highlights for World Gifts this year?
Launching our new look has been a real highlight. Not only was this an immense achievement for everyone involved considering the extra challenges of working remotely, but we’ve also had really positive feedback.

Launching our “Post direct” option on the website. This allows people to provide us with a personalised message which we will print in their card and post directly to their loved one. In a year where there is so much uncertainty around who we will be able to see, I really hope that this option helps people to feel a bit more connected.

Happy Queen Bee Gifts costs only £4

How can we get involved?
Buy a World Gift! You can see the full range at cafod.org.uk/worldgifts or you can order via the catalogue if you’ve got your hands on one of those. Already done that? You could see if anyone in your parish or school wants to fundraise for World Gifts. Or you could just spread the word, whether on social media, in your parish bulletin or just chatting to your friends. We know the more people who hear about World Gifts, the better! I also know that right now is a really hard time financially for a lot of people. World Gifts start from just £4, but they’re also available all year round. So if you can’t buy a World Gift now, you can always do it for another occasion.

If you’d like more information on how to send a World Gift this Christmas, click here.

You can read our official World Gifts 2020 press release here.

What’s next after Harvest? Julie is sharing her ideas.

Julie Valentine is a parish Volunteer at Our Lady Queen of Peace in East Sheen. She reflects on her experience of this Harvest Family Fast Day and what is coming up next for us all. 

Harvest in a Nut shell

Julie Valentine from East Sheen shares her experience on Harvest Fast Day in her parish

What was Harvest like this year? I heard that some parishes like St James the Great in Petts Wood achieved very substantial collections for Harvest and got a good response from their parishioners to donate via their mobile phones.  Or other parishes like Our Lady of the Rosary in Sidcup managed to advertise successfully in the parish newsletter and social media.  A few parishes like St Vincent de Paul, Battersea, were even brave enough to try the cashless payment with ordering some devices from CAFOD.  These examples were very uplifting and show the wonderful commitment of my fellow volunteers and their parish communities.

For me though, Harvest Fast Day was disappointing and flat.  With the church still not open for Sunday Mass, there were no posters, no inspiring talk at the Masses, no satisfaction of watching the pile of envelopes mount up in the collection basket.  Our priest kindly circulated the CAFOD Newsletter and did his best to remind parishioners during the Zoom Mass and, to me, it all passed with scarcely a ripple …

So here we go again, I thought.  Back into relative lockdown and now also face the prospect of a “non-Christmas”.  How about all those people that CAFOD works with, for whom every year is probably a “non-Christmas”?  They are still battling their own problems, their own helplessness, their own hopelessness… But does it have to be like that?  “No one beyond reach” is our motto.  Time to pull up my socks and think creatively about how I can continue to do even a tiny bit for CAFOD!  In my country, Jamaica, we have a saying “one-one coco fill basket” (Coco is a small root vegetable).  I must try to contribute my coco. 

What’s next after Harvest?

First stop : the CAFOD Website

First stop, the CAFOD website.  What are other people doing?  Wonderful things – I saw the runners in the marathon and heard of parishes raising thousands of pounds with sponsored runs and walks.  That’s one option, maybe not for me though but my grand children!  https://cafod.org.uk/Fundraise/A-Z-of-fundraising-ideas

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Get inspired by St Mary’s World Gifts celebration.

Unsure what to get someone this holiday season? Consider putting a smile on everyone’s face by purchasing a world gift. See how St. Mary’s organised a bake sale to purchase a community water supply World Gift. By advertising CAFOD‘s World Gifts, we can change the lives of those in need.

parish coffee

St. Mary’s coffee team enjoying Irish Coffees at their wonderous bake sale!

This past weekend, St. Mary’s in Clapham hosted a bake sale for World Gifts! All the proceeds are going towards a fund for a water supply for an entire community! This is a great way to get the whole parish involved and raise money for World Gifts. St. Mary’s sold cakes, brownies and all kinds of desserts that were enjoyed by all. They also had a coffee team on duty who were mixing delicious coffee to enjoy with their desserts. This is an amazing way to bring people together for the holidays and positively change communities.

A community water supply will cost £750, and will supply a constant source of clean water for many people. One example of this World Gift in action was in Uganda when CAFOD was able to fix a waterhole, provide the training and the necessary tools to Cecilia’s community with the proceeds from CAFOD’s community water gift. Cecilia says, “Now we have enough water for food, to clean ourselves and our clothes, and for our animals to drink.” World Gifts such as these will have a lasting impact and can change the lives of many.

Congratulations to St. Mary’s in Clapham, they raised over £600 at their bake sale! This is fantastic!

Check out World Gifts Today

What are World Gifts?

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