Neal, on the Step into the Gap programme in Blackpool, outlines where this term has taken him….
This school term has been very busy for me.
I travelled up to Blackpool for three days at the beginning of term for a small send off and to finish a lesson plan on poverty I started before Christmas. After a packed 3 days I journeyed back to London to prepare for my trip to Sierra Leone.
I packed and unpacked and packed again to make sure I had absolutely everything I needed. The pharmacy of medication and footballs took up a lot of space in my bag but I still over packed shoes and clothes (even a raincoat) which I would never wear. The trip was amazing and a month in Sierra Leone was nowhere near enough time, but we had to get back to share our stories.
After 2 weeks rest and post-trip blues it was back up to Blackpool again to start sharing my experience with as many people as possible and I was thrown straight in at the deep end. Our first day back was an INSET day for all the Catholic teachers in Blackpool and I had to give a presentation to a group of staff about how CAFOD works with partners overseas but also what I learnt from my trip.
This talk prepared me and gave me the confidence to talk in front of lots of people, something I managed to get out of before Christmas. I was invited into loads of classes in 3 local primary schools and St. Mary’s to give presentations and share my journey. The most scary task of all was to give 3 assemblies starting with sixth form. I was very nervous to speak in front of over 220 students in each assembly but learnt from each one.
This half term has been manic. I have since spoken at 3 parishes multiple times through Lent about CAFOD’s work in Sierra Leone and even travelled up to Lancaster to see Bishop Michael Campbell which was exciting. I told stories of Sierra Leone and he shared memories of spending 4 years in Nigeria which was nice.
This last term has been extremely long and packed with talks and presentations. I even managed to publish an article about my trip in the Blackpool Gazette. I have been lucky enough to experience the great work of CAFOD overseas and be able to travel to Sierra Leone but I am looking forward to my Easter break.