Why is everyone talking about the Department for International Development?

In 2017, CAFOD supporters spoke to MPs

Last week, the government announced that it was planning to merge the Department for International development and the Foreign Office.

Faith charities and international development aid agencies alike were saddened by the decision, calling it ‘seriously misguided’.

CAFOD’s Director, Christine Allen, said:

“Our support for our brothers and sisters living in poverty shouldn’t be contingent on what we as Britain can get out of it – we must have a clear distinction between our aid budget and money spent on British interests.

“Increasingly issues such as climate change, the destruction of nature, and the spread of Covid-19 demonstrate unequivocally that global issues can only be tackled through increased global cooperation, and that progress can be reversed through retreating into approaches based on national interest.”

CAFOD joined forced with other leading faith charities across the country to put out a statement, which you can read here.

Christine wrote to The Daily Telegraph letter’s section, writing:

“As UK Aid is spent by more and more departments, the UK government must commit to the highest levels of transparency across the whole portfolio. 

“We need to see a levelling up, not a levelling down, in the accountability of UK aid.”

The full letter is published here.

We also heard from our international partners, concerned by the decision, including the Reverend George Cosmos Zumaire Lungu of the Diocese of Chipata, in Zambia, wrote to the Prime Minister about the decision. 

We will make sure to keep you updated as the situation develops, and you can keep up to date on the latest developments by following our social media channels @cafodshrewsbury.

Young Caritas group put their faith into action during lockdown.

A group of young people from a parish in Stockport have been working hard in lockdown to serve the most vulnerable people in their community. Here they share how they have been inspired by Pope Francis to respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of the earth.

‘Caritas’ means Christian love or charity.

For many of us, lockdown has been an opportunity to slow down our pace of life. But for a group of young people from Our Lady and St Christopher’s in Romiley, lockdown has been a busy time of service for their community.

Young Caritas was formed in November 2019 and set straight to work on issues concerning the environment, poverty and homelessness. Before lockdown, they had already held an appeal for Christmas gifts for the elderly, served mince pies after Mass during Advent and held a silent vigil on the steps of the Church to raise awareness of homelessness.

One of the 96 food boxes donated and given to those in need.

When lockdown was announced, Young Caritas leapt into action and began working hard to serve the vulnerable people of the parish. They began by delivering 350 parish newsletters to homes and invited people to contact them if they needed assistance.

With help from the council and local businesses, they quickly began to provide practical help to those in need. With donations and countless hours of service, Young Caritas have delivered fresh food boxes, picked up and delivered prescriptions and gone shopping for those unable to leave the house. They have been a lifeline to so many in the community.

Oliver joined Young Caritas before lockdown “to make the world a better place”. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus he is having to shield but has come up with some amazing ways of making a difference at home.

Oliver with Harris Hawk!

Oliver said, “I’ve been to work on multiple projects including growing herbs and vegetables, riasing a baby Harris Hawk to fly and also growing flowers from seed to send out to my local community”.

Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth and to ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si’

Libby putting up her bird feeder made from recycled plastic bottles.

During lockdown, Libby, aged 10, has been inspired by Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’. She has focused on recycling and reusing things we would usually throw away without a second thought. She’s used old plant pots and has created her own fairy garden, turned plastic bottles into bird feeders and has even made nursery resources out of cardboard boxes!

Young Caritas aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. We can’t wait to see what they do next! You can follow them on Twitter @YoungCaritasRo1

Are there any young people in your parish who are doing amazing things in lockdown? Let us know!

Update from our partners on our coronavirus response

We are receiving regular updates from our local aid experts, sharing the progress of projects in countries like Nigeria and information from local organisations who are working in some of the most vulnerable communities, like Caritas Bangladesh who is working alongside refugee in the camps in Cox’s Bazar.

A boy in Kenya washing his hands

A couple of weeks ago, we had a brilliant webinar with Kayode Akintola, our Country Representative in Sierra Leone, about the Ebola crisis and its relevance for the coronavirus outbreak. You can catch up here if you missed it.

One of our CAFOD volunteers in the North East, Paul Robinson, the Managing Director of PER Productions, kindly volunteered his professional expertise to create these three short videos based around Kayode’s talk.

A young man in Zimbabwe collecting food

You can watch them here, and please feel free to share them with members of your community, school or parish:

Coronavirus threatens Sierra Leone: https://vimeo.com/418056059

CAFOD responds to coronavirus in Sierra Leone: https://vimeo.com/418056395

CAFOD supporters keep hope alive in Sierra Leone: https://vimeo.com/418056858