James tells us about Speak Up at St Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool

James Ronan is taking part in the Step Into The Gap programme. He tells us about his experience of the Speak Up event, which took place at St Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool. 



St Mary’s Catholic Academy students

I am currently taking part in the CAFOD Step into the Gap programme. I am based at St Mary’s Catholic Academy with Hannah Henley, who is also taking part in the programme. We serve as part of the chaplaincy team. I am motivated to participate in the Step into the Gap programme as it has real opportunity to put faith into action, and inspire others to take action on poverty and global justice issues that impact our global brothers and sisters.

I was delighted to be asked to help arrange the CAFOD Speak Up Climate Change 6th form debate. I got in contact with Mr Paul Maynard and Mr Gordon Marsden’s secretary’s to invite the MPs to participate in the debate as part of the Speak Up week of action for CAFOD. As a chaplaincy team we were all thrilled that both MPs were willing to take part and judge the 6th form students motions on climate change.

The debate was held on Friday 14th October 2016. Students raised issues specifically about our current global environmental systems. We debated the question: Is our current model of capitalism capable of coping with climate change, or do we need a new economic model? Students further discussed how climate issues effect communities both nationally and internationally.


Students with local MPs

Both MPs were really engaged with the topics that the 6th form students’ came up with and this led into a greater discussion on the issues of sustainable energy, multinational corporations and climate change. It is such a global and contentious issue, I thought it was brilliant the way the 6th form students not only prepared for it but responded to the MPs questions on the topics.

I think a memorable moment for me was seeing both MP Paul Maynard and MP Gordon Marsden take their seats and give a brief overview of their views on climate change before the debate took place. I remember both MPs really came prepared with folders on the topics, ready to listen and discuss the upcoming student motions.


Students supporting Speak Up

I think we should be stewards of creation and as Pope Francis says ‘Care for Our Common Home’ in Laudato Si. I am motivated by the fact that climate change especially is having an ever increasing effect on the poor and the most marginalised in global society, it is the single biggest threat to reducing poverty. I think events such as the debate we organised for Speak Up can have a positive and lasting impact in developing a dialogue and changing attitudes on the protection of the environment which I think is really important.

This event was part of the Climate Coalition’s Speak Up week of action, which saw thousands of people meeting their MPs across the country.

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