Act on Poverty: Students spell out message to government

As most schools wound down for the summer holidays, all 900 students at All Hallows Catholic College, Macclesfield, kicked off the Act on Poverty campaign in style. They used their bodies to spell out the words “All Hallows Act on Poverty, Act Now!” – a scene captured by fellow student Kieran Truefitt from the cockpit of a light aircraft.

When All Hallows learned about Act on Poverty, in keeping with their status of Business and Enterprise College, they came up with a novel way to make sure no one could miss the campaign launch.

The event was meticulously planned: each class was responsible for forming one letter and all the students lined up in the playground until summoned by walkie talkie to line up on the playing fields as the plane approached.

It was great to see how engaged they all were, and how the nervous calm turned into a buzz of excitement as the plane arrived overhead.

Kieran Truefitt, a Year 13 student who has recently finished his A levels, was co-pilot and photographer. Since his early teens Kieran has worked weekends and holidays to save for flying lessons to fulfil his dream of becoming a pilot. He reached his goal and is now a trained pilot.

Len Turner supported him on this flight by providing the aircraft and taking over the controls so that Kieran could take the photographs at the crucial moment. Len donated his time and costs to CAFOD to ensure the moment was captured and can now be used to promote Act on Poverty locally.

The students at All Hallows know the campaign doesn’t end here. When they return in September, they plan to continue building the campaign by making their own No. 10 door in college, organising card-signings at school and in their parishes and collecting commitments to action from all the students – all before 10.10.10.

Encouraged by school chaplain, Rev David Harrison, the students are becoming experiencing campaigners. Last year they played a very active part in the Climate Justice campaign, inspired by a visit to the college by James Galgallo, a CAFOD partner from the Diocese of Marsabit in Northern Kenya.

James brought home the reality of changing weather patterns, and explained what impact more frequent and longer-lasting droughts is having on people struggling to find enough pasture or water for their cattle. Inspired by James, the students prepared two eye-catching banners and collected hundreds of signed cards which were handed to Gordon Brown before last December’s Copenhagen climate talks.

The stunt has raised interest in Act on Poverty across the Diocese and shown how imaginative you can be in finding new ways to show support and encourage others to join in.

It was a great experience for me to join the students in the field and share their excitement. We’re so grateful to staff and students for their tremendous commitment to campaigning with CAFOD to bring about real and lasting change for people living in poverty around the world.

Posted by Sue Bownas, CAFOD Diocesan Manager for Shrewsbury

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