Step into the Gap: Embarking on our overseas adventure

Rebecca, one of three Step into the Gap volunteers in Lancaster Diocese, is about to depart for her overseas trip to Cambodia. We asked her how she is feeling, how she is preparing for her trip and to reflect on the year so far. Rebecca writes:

Rebecca (far right) with this year’s team of CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteers

I decided from a visit to Abbotswick House of Prayer that spending a gap year at a Catholic Retreat Centre, gaining skills working with young people and being creative with how we talked to them about faith would be extremely exciting. I researched into the CAFOD gap year after that and thought that the overseas experience, as well as the role of bringing CAFOD’s work into retreats, would be a fantastic opportunity for me.  

When starting to think about writing this pre-departure blog, I began to think about the process I went through to take part in Step Into the Gap as a whole. It all started last August when I was fortunate enough to spend some time at Abbotswick house. I had decided in my second year of Uni that I wanted to take a gap year after graduating and was in the process of thinking about what I might like to do for it.  

It has been a whirlwind so far after graduating, and the retreat centre work has kept me busy! It has been fun to have two single focuses: being Castlerigg and CAFOD that I can put my energy into. Working to meet short deadlines has been completely different to Uni, where I was managing larger projects. I have no doubt that Cambodia will be another whirlwind experience for me. But I also do not doubt that it will be something I will treasure for a long time.  

Rebecca with the team of volunteers at Castlerigg

Reading about CAFOD’s work and learning more through preparing workshops has been extremely interesting so far. So, to actually have the chance to see first-hand the work CAFOD are doing to help people help themselves in local communities in Cambodia will be surreal but in an informative, interesting and exciting way. The thought I had back in August 2018 is now becoming a reality. Once I am packed and sure I have everything I could need, all that will be left to do is to make the most of the experience!  

After our international prep weekend, I am now more aware of just how rare this sort of opportunity is, and how worthwhile it can be. I know that the Step into the gap programme is designed to develop leadership skills, and I am excited to face challenges and grow through them whilst in Cambodia and afterwards as a result. I am especially looking forward to improving my initiative, knowledge, environmental awareness, teamwork skills, ability to adapt to new situations and enjoy the experience but gain from it too. Another thing I am intrigued about is how we will all get on and work together as a group. I think there is a real mix of characters and I am excited to get to know people better and work with them all!! 

As well as getting to know fellow team members, I am excited to meet and spend time with people from all the different areas of Cambodia. I am excited to see what Phnom Penh, Veal Veng, Pursat, Battambang, Krokor and Siem Reap are like to live in. I am interested in seeing how the charities COCD and KBO fulfill their work. I am aware that the people I will meet will be able to teach me a lot and I can be inspired by their work in practice. I am particularly excited to meet people working for KBO, as I am intrigued by the work that they do to help disabled persons. It is something that has become much closer to my heart after spending time working at a camp for people with special needs over Summer. I am also excited to gain a deeper understanding of the youth in the different areas, in terms of how their culture may differ to the culture of the young people I come across during retreats! It will be such a great experience to be able to feedback to my team at Castlerigg and the young people we get here, just simply what similarities and differences there are in culture between England and Cambodia. I am also going to set a goal for myself to learn as many simple Cambodian phrases as I can during my time there and to remember them afterwards!!  

I am also excited to experience my faith in a new way. During the past few months, I have realised how powerful prayer can be. I now know just how strong it is that I can be anywhere in the world and pray, knowing that God is there to support me through the ups and downs that I come across. I am excited to travel with God beside me to Cambodia and learn from others in their faith whilst I am there. 

Below is a picture of the CAFOD prayer space we had during the International Prep weekend. The prayer time we had for reflection and bringing together our anxieties as well as aspirations for the International visit was a really powerful aspect of the preparation, and I am glad that we are doing the visit with God at the centre of our collective thoughts and actions.  

A CAFOD prayer space

Apply to Step into the Gap today

CAFOD Christmas Coffee and Mince Pies

To our wonderful CAFOD Lancaster volunteers,

A big thank you for all your support in our parishes, schools and Volunteer Centre this year. You’ve been amazing!Christmas invitation 2019

We’re pleased to invite you to join us for coffee, nibbles and mince pies on Thursday 19th December, 11am – 2pm at the CAFOD Lancaster Volunteer Centre. This is an opportunity, just before Christmas, to gather with other CAFOD volunteers and enjoy each other’s company over mince pies, nibbles and coffee.

Please do call in if you’re passing this way. If you would be lovely to see you. We realise that this won’t be convenient to many of our wonderful volunteers in different parts of the diocese.

There’s no need to reply if you can’t make it. For those who would like to attend, it would be really helpful, for catering purposes, if you could let us know by Tuesday 17th.

Many thanks,

Emma & Patrick

Emma Nolan and Patrick Gardner
Community Participation Coordinators – CAFOD Lancaster

CAFOD Lancaster Volunteer Centre
St Walburge’s Centre
St Walburge’s Gardens
Preston  PR2 2QJ

Telephone  01772 733 310  Mobile 07920 565 454

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CAFOD Faith in Action Days


Next month, CAFOD will be hosting Faith in Action Days across England and Wales.

The Faith in Action events were created with a simple ethos: to help explore the links between faith and politics.

To help define the moments when we should pray from the side-lines and when should we roll up our sleeves.

Our global church has a proud history of encouraging Catholics’ political reflection and action.

This day will focus on reflecting on church teaching and scriptures, alongside sharing inspiring stories of CAFOD campaigners both here in the UK and overseas – and of how you can get involved.

Sign up on our Eventbrite today

Find out more about CAFOD events

CAFOD Faith in Action Day (Love is Civic & Political – Our Faith & the Common Good) 

Nearest Faith in Action Days to CAFOD Lancaster are:

Saturday 2nd November: CAFOD Faith in Action Day: Savio House, Ingersley Rd, Bollington, Macclesfield SK10 5RW, 10am-4pm. Please bring vegetarian food to share. Sign up on our Eventbrite today

Saturday 2nd November: CAFOD Faith in Action Day: Our Lady’s Parish, Cornlands Road, Acomb, York YO24 3DX, 10am-4pm. Please bring something for a shared lunch. Sign up on our Eventbrite today

Saturday 9th November: CAFOD Faith in Action Day: Sandymount House of Prayer, 16 Burbo Bank Rd, Blundellsands, Crosby, Liverpool L23 6TH, 10am-4pm. Soup and roll provided for lunch. Donations towards cost of day accepted. Sign up on our Eventbrite today

Saturday 23rd November: CAFOD Faith in Action Day: Bamford Quaker Community, Water Ln, Hope Valley S33 0DA, 10am-4pm. Lunch arrangements to be confirmed. Sign up on our Eventbrite today

Saturday 30th November: CAFOD Faith in Action Day: Loreto Centre, Abbey Rd, Llandudno LL30 2EL, 10am-4pm. Lunch arrangements to be confirmed. Sign up on our Eventbrite today

Find out more about CAFOD events