Hello from Alex – Lancaster’s new Gapper!

CAFOD has recently welcomed a new cohort of volunteers onto the Step into the Gap programme. In this blog we hear from CAFOD Lancaster’s newest recruit, Alex Adamcyzk. Welcome, Alex!

Aleks Adamcyzk.jpg

Greetings!

My name is Alex, I’m 21 years old and I am a gapper based at St. Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool. I found out about CAFOD two years ago, when I moved to England from Poland to volunteer at Castlerigg Manor. I saw couple of posters around our retreat centre, another two or three at the back of our church and I thought that was it; posters, fliers, collections… Oh, how wrong was I!

Until I personally met some CAFOD people I had no clue how much amazing work is done. Advocating for people’s voice to be heard, restoring people’s dignity, helping people help themselves, tackling inequality and climate change, not only speaking about the issues but working towards a positive change. I felt like I wanted to become a part of that. I wanted to change the world, and now I could join a cause to fight for common good, live consciously, make a difference, even if it’s just one tiny step at the time.

It might sound tad cliché but being there for others is what drags me out of bed in the morning. Being with people, sharing their experiences, learning from them is extremely inspiring. Knowing that I can give something in return makes it even more special. This is why I applied, and even though I have a lot more to learn I am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead. I can’t wait to meet all sorts of new people, from pupils to teachers and parishioners, and hopefully you one day! Please stay tuned and join in putting our faith into action!

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Alex and her fellow Step into the Gap volunteers, who are undertaking placements across the country.

Find out more about the Step into the Gap programme

 

James finishes his CAFOD Gap year placement

James Ronan, 24, has written a reflective piece about finishing Step into the Gap, sharing stories of Cambodia, his highlights and what his hopes are for a future career.

So the time has come to say goodbye to Blackpool and St Mary’s Catholic Academy. It has been incredible year, moving all the way up from Devon to live in Blackpool to volunteer for CAFOD. It has probably been the biggest step in my life so far. Literally Stepping into the Gap in Blackpool: moving to a new area, not knowing anybody and starting a new life for a year. It has all worked out and I have had so many amazing experiences, made new friends and have met so many inspiring people, most notably in Cambodia with my fellow CAFOD gappers.

It has been great to play my small part in being able to share CAFOD’s work this year working in the Diocese of Lancaster and living within the parish at St John Vianney Presbytery. Working at St Mary’s as part of the chaplaincy team has been an absolute joy and I will have very fond memories of the team and the work we have achieved this year. My highlights include co-organising the 6th form Climate debate for CAFOD’s Speak Up campaign with guest MPs Paul Maynard and Gordon Marsden in October 2016. Leading sessions with Year 7s during form time about the Refugee crisis and the Lampedusa cross, and presenting assemblies to all college forms with the chaplaincy team on Justice January and CAFOD’s renewable energy campaign Power to Be.

The Cambodia visit in January was so inspiring and affirming for me of CAFOD’s work overseas. Previously in Devon I had fundraised a lot for CAFOD (over £7,000) never really knowing the impact such fundraising was having. Seeing first-hand the difference my parish fundraising had made over the years as well as all the collective impact of the Catholic communities’ support in England and Wales on the other side of the world in Cambodia was elevating.

Photo 1 CAFOD Gappers with Singha

CAFOD Gappers alongside their interpreter for their first week, Singha, former director of CAFOD Partner Village Support Group.

It’s an experience I will never forget. I have very fond memories of the Cambodian people we visited during our time in Battambang and Siem Reap who were so welcoming and CAFOD’s partners Village Support Group and Srer Khmer who we spent time with. On my return to the UK, the last few months of my placement have been about sharing CAFOD campaigns, fundraising and sharing the inspirational stories of the people I met and spent time with in Cambodia. In May I visited the CAFOD Plymouth Schools Volunteers to share about my Cambodia experiences and I also shared with parishioners after Mass at my old parish church in Tavistock.

As well as sharing my CAFOD Step into the Gap experiences this year with students, parishioners and CAFOD volunteers, I have also been able to share my gap year work with British and American Actors. In May I managed to share about my CAFOD gap year work with actress Hannah Spearritt (S Club 7) and actor Andrew-Lee Potts (from ITVs Primeval) at a comic convention in Huddersfield. In June I also shared with British actor Paul Blackthorne (TV show Arrow) and American actress Danielle Panabaker (TV show The Flash) at a convention in Blackpool. It has been a fantastic year of sharing CAFOD’s work with others, the important stories of the Cambodian people I met and my work as a CAFOD Gapper working at St Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool.

More recently from the 7th to the 9th of July in Oxford the CAFOD gappers had a final weekend get together, for our final evaluation and celebration. The weekend was fantastic. Myself and the other gappers went out for a meal on the Friday evening which was an opportunity to catch up about our CAFOD work and the things we had been doing. On the Saturday we were joined by CAFOD staff Catherine Jones and Lucy Jardine who run the Step into the Gap programme as well as Sister Ann who is a part of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus who are one of the partners of the Step into the Gap programme.

 

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Prayers and representations of our CAFOD sharing across this year.

 

We began the Saturday morning with prayer and reflection, writing on cut-out hands the people who have made a difference to our lives this year. We also used cut-out footprints to represent the people we had shared CAFOD’s work with this year, thinking about the impact of our CAFOD sharing. On the Saturday evening we all went out for a final meal with Catherine, Lucy and Sister Ann to celebrate our accomplishments this year completing the Step into the GAP programme.

There are so many people I would like to ‘Thank’ this year so I will only mention a few. I would like to ‘Thank’ everyone at St Mary’s and the parish of St John Vianney as well as everyone involved with the Step into the Gap programme, especially Bishop Michael Campbell and CAFOD staff Catherine Jones, Lucy Jardine and Patrick Gardner. I would like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Fr Peter Sharrock and Sister Ann for their support this year in Blackpool and I would also like to ‘Thank’ this year’s CAFOD Gappers: Rod, Charlotte, Sophie, Bridgid, Lizzie, Sophie and Hannah for making this year so memorable and amazing.

Photo 3 Gappers Together

CAFOD Gappers for 2016-2017 in Oxford

In terms of my future I am moving down to Somerset for the time being. I have gained so many skills and have had so many new experiences this year that I hope to be able to use these to eventually develop a career in a Catholic Diocese somewhere or to work for a charity in the development sector. I hope to be able to continue to put my Catholic faith into action building on everything I have achieved so far and I am excited about what the future holds for me.

Find out more about Step into the Gap.

 

 

 

Fairtrade Fortnight at St Mary’s

CAFOD Lancaster Step into the Gap volunteer, Hannah Henley, shares her ‘Fairtrade Fortnight Write Up’ from St Mary’s Catholic Academy in Blackpool:

Hannah, CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer

Hannah, CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteer

CAFOD founded the Fairtrade Foundation in 1992 along with Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft, the World Development Movement and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. Every February. parishes and schools across the country get involved in Fairtrade Fortnight to raise awareness of the foundation and speak out for justice in solidarity with the world’s poorest communities.

Fairtrade Fortnight took place from 27 February – 10 March and St. Mary’s have been presenting the staff and students with various treats, all while taking them on a mini break around the world. Students had the chance to get their Fairtrade passport stamped for each different place they have been taken to.

To open the two weeks, the Chaplaincy Team held a Tiki Juice Bar, with Fairtrade ingredients from Latin America. The students were offered a drink for 50p with a choice of Traditional Handmade Lemonade, St. Mary’s Ice Tea, Strawberry Fizz and Appleade. The Juice Bar was a hit and set up the theme nicely to create excitement over what was to come next.

skewers of marshmellows, strawberries and banana

skewers of marshmellows, strawberries and banana

We then had hot drinks on offer; Fairtrade tea, hot chocolate and fudge hot chocolate. A drink on it’s own was 60p or you could have a hot drink and two fair break biscuits for £1. We offered this trip to West Africa – where Fairtrade chocolate is found at break in the Deli Bar. This offer ran for two days as well as selling all of our regular Fairtrade products.

Continuing in West Africa, we held a chocolate fountain with Fairtrade chocolate and the students had the opportunity to dip in skewers of marshmellows, strawberries and banana for £1 per skewer. This was a clear success with the students and the Chaplaincy team even got a little taste at the end!

chocolate fountain with Fairtrade chocolate

chocolate fountain with Fairtrade chocolate

To end Fairtrade Fortnight, we gave the staff a treat of Fairtrade tea and coffee with a Fairtrade chocolatey product, or fruit for those good people who have given up chocolate for Lent. Debs and Margaret, the angels who usually prep for staff brews at break time, were given their own break as we took over to highlight to the staff what Fairtrade products are available in shops and a taste of a good brew and a proper coffee.

Personally, I have loved Fairtrade Fortnight and the efforts of the whole team, particularly Sarah, have paid off as we managed to draw attention to the Fairtrade Foundation and generate some attention and the chance to offer students something different. Remember we sell Fairtrade products at break everyday! What’s your favourite?

Together with the Fairtrade Foundation, Traidcraft, Christian Aid and Oxfam, we are encouraging people to email their MPs to ask International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to make sure that the UK uses its trade policy to benefit the world’s poorest people. Send an email today.