Our first visit to Parliament!

A group of 20 CAFOD supporters from all across the diocese had the privilege yesterday to come along to a very special day in the fantastic setting of the Houses of Parliament!

Through the help of our parish contact and MP correspondent Stan Wall, we asked Mark Hoban MP to sponsor a visit to Parliament for a group of supporters with an interest in becoming MP correspondents (sorry for the lack of photos – but we were not allowed to take any inside the building!).

We started with an excellent guided tour of Parliament led by Mark’s PA Vanessa Silcock – it was truly inspiring and informative, and how great it felt to be surrounded by such beauty and history! The tour took us to Westminster Hall, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. For many of us, it was the first time to see them “live” rather than on a TV screen!

After the tour, we were joined by Mark Hoban for a Q&A session. Mark very kindly took time out from his very busy schedule to meet us and answer various questions ranging from the aid budget to Millennium Development Goals, the upcoming Rio+20 summit and more. It was a a really useful session, and Mark stressed how influential personal letters and surgery meetings from constituents can be, and what a difference they can make!

After the Q&A, our colleague Dominic Goggins, our Parliamentary Relations Coordinator, gave an excellent briefing about how CAFOD works in Parliament and about the role of MP correspondents and how crucial it is for our advocacy work.

We ended the day by watching the Speaker’s Procession in the Central Lobby at 2.30pm – and later on, those who wished stayed on to listen to a debate in the House of Commons!

It was a truly amazing day and we hope everybody has been inspired to get activitely involved in writing to their MPs from now on, and/or to campaign with CAFOD. For more information on MP correspondents, click here – and if you sign up to be one, don’t forget to send us an email at portsmouth@cafod.org.uk to let us know, so that we can make sure we support you all the way!

We hope to be able to go back to Parliament next year! 🙂

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