Many thanks to our fantastic school visitors in the Portsmouth diocese who visit Primary and Secondary schools to talk about CAFOD’s work and inspire young people to get involved. If you have time during the week to visit schools do consider this volunteer role. We would love to have more school visitors in Bournemouth, Guernsey, Portsmouth, Fareham and Gosport areas.
Linda tells us why she is a school visitor.
“Having spent my whole life in Catholic Education working in both Secondary and Primary Schools it was with a heavy heart that I had to take early retirement due to ill health in 2007. Recovering from illness was slow but I found myself blessed to be in partial remission, thank God.
By 2009 my energy levels had started to return, and I wanted to do something worthwhile; I could have volunteered at one of the local charity shops, but my heart was still in Education. I was aware that our local CAFOD schools volunteer was moving away from the area, so I leapt at the chance of becoming an Education Volunteer with CAFOD Portsmouth. I loved the training at HQ and then working with Lynda Mussell, the very dynamic Portsmouth CAFOD Lead, and the diocesan team of Volunteers.
My ‘patch’ consists of 5 Reading Catholic Primaries and one Secondary and occasionally I work with 3 primaries situated just outside Reading in the Birmingham Diocese.
It’s a real privilege to be able to visit our Diocesan Schools and share the amazing work that CAFOD is able to accomplish due to the ongoing support of Schools and Parishes. The children are so eager to learn about their brothers and sisters in the developing world and have a real empathy for them in recognising the injustices and social inequalities that exist.
On an annual basis I work with all Year 6 children across Reading to prepare for our Public Speaking Competition. I love being able to spend a whole morning running a workshop in each school considering CAFOD’s work, what makes a good speaker, and a then presenting them with a research topic on which to prepare a 2-3-minute talk.
After in house decisions 2 representatives from each school attend the Grand Final in the Reading Council Chambers. We receive such fantastic support from the Mayor and many of the Councillors who are judges. In the past we have had the Anglican Bishop of Reading, local MPs, Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, Newspaper Editors and Head teachers as judges.The children area always amazing and I and many of the adults are reduced to tears each time.
In all my visits I am ably assisted by Francesca my puppet, the children love her, she’s always willing to dress up in the current CAFOD ‘theme’.
I ‘ve taken her on a couple of Pilgrimages I’ve made to the Holy Land and Santiago de Compostella. It was truly joyful and humbling to meet a lady from South America who works in a co-operative in Bethlehem who recognised Francesca’s CAFOD tee-shirt, she exclaimed when she saw Francesca perched on a camel, that CAFOD had helped her family back home; it was a lovely moment and filled the shop with great joy and laughter. (see photo below)
In the last 3 years or so I’ve been part of the Primary Advisory Group which meets on a termly basis at Romero House with David Brinn to review the previous term’s work and help shape the primary resources for future topics. It’s wonderful ‘working’ at H.Q. there’s a great atmosphere in Romero House and it’s humbling witnessing staff working with such determination, commitment and joy.
Volunteering has allowed me to keep in touch with Catholic Education, work alongside young people and meet old and new friends. I love it when I go into schools and the children recognise me as the CAFOD lady and occasionally I’ll be greeted in the same way out of school. It’s great to have a sense of purpose and be a very small cog in ‘machinery’ that makes up our amazing Catholic charity CAFOD.”