CAFOD worker inspires at Aquinas College

On a recent visit to a local Stockport college, the Emergency Programme Manager for CAFOD’s Syria response shared his insights into the world of humanitarian working with the next generation.

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Alan Thomlinson first travelled to Syria in 2010 as a tourist, and recently returned from a trip almost seven years later in his role as Emergency Programme Manager for CAFOD.

Students were interested to hear about working in international development and to learn about the enormous impact of the Syrian crisis.

Alan inspired the students by sharing his experiences as an aid worker and the impact this has had on his life both personally and professionally.

He said: “I enjoyed sharing my experiences with the group at Aquinas College.  The group were interested and it was brilliant to be able to enlighten them on the realities of working in the humanitarian sector, but equally to share with them the sense of reward that this comes with working in the field.”

Sadiqah Sultana, a lower sixth Global Justice and Peace student at Aquinas, said:  “I attended the talk and Alan informed us about the ongoing complex issues in Syria and how CAFOD provides short term aid for those suffering in the war torn country.

“He gave us his insight on his shaky journey to becoming a humanitarian worker and the difficulties in getting a career in international development. Overall, I enjoyed the talk as it educated me on topics I didn’t understand before and taught me where generous donations to CAFOD go to.”

The talk highlighted the complexity of the crisis in Syria, and Alan explained how aid agencies like CAFOD are responding to the challenges that arise.

CAFOD’s local representative in Stockport, Bridget Fenwick, said: “Thanks firstly to Alan, who offered such a great insight into his work, and secondly to the students at Aquinas who showed such a deep understanding of the topic and an eagerness to learn about CAFOD’s work.”

Find out more about CAFOD’s work in Syria 

Wirral volunteers celebrate breaking £180,000 fundraising total for CAFOD in fifteen years of coastal walk

On 15 September, walkers from the annual Wirral coastal walk came together to celebrate their incredible achievement of raising over £180,000 for CAFOD.

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This year saw the fifteenth year of CAFOD volunteer Finbarr Stewart organising a team for the annual Wirral coastal walk.  The walk, which spanned over 15 miles in its entirety, has now raised £182,000 in total for CAFOD, with the group raising a massive £13,000 this year alone.

One of the team-members was Mimi, who was the youngest person to take on the walk this year.

Aged just nine, Mimi walked with her uncle, Richard, inspired to take action after a visit to a refugee camp in Lesbos with her mum.

She said: “My mum helped me to keep walking by promising me an ice cream at the end!   We sang silly songs along the way.

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Mimi and her Uncle.

“I wanted to do the walk as I have been to a refugee camp in Lesbos with my mum and joined in with the children in the children’s tent there.”

Mimi was joined by 40 other keen fundraisers from across the Wirral and surrounding areas, who came together to walk the distance from Seacombe ferry to the Wirral Country Park visitor centre on 18 June.

There were three finish lines to make the walk inclusive: one at four miles, one at ten miles and another at 15 miles.

Finbarr Stewart, who organises the CAFOD team, said: “This year the money is being divided and donated to CAFOD’s Syria and Yemen appeals. I’m really pleased with how much has been raised.

“People of all ages take part in the challenge, and some have joined me every year since we started raising money for CAFOD, but it’s great to have been able to welcome new walkers too.”

Organised by the Rotary Club of North Wirral, the walk raises money for many different charities and takes its participants past landmarks such as Britain’s longest promenade, Kings Parade, and Fort Perch Rock, a fort built in the Second World War.

Bridget Fenwick, CAFOD’s local representative, added: “Finbarr’s achievement of co-ordinating the walkers over the past fifteen years, and raising so much this year, is a brilliant one.  We’re so happy that the team once again walked for CAFOD – it’s their support that makes such a difference.

“The CAFOD walkers have raised a staggering amount over the last fifteen years and we are very grateful to everyone who has taken part.”

Thank you to everyone who walked for CAFOD!

Find out more about CAFOD’s Yemen and Syria appeals.

Chicken triumph again!

Sue Bownas from the CAFOD Chester Support group writes below of a tradition at Easter for the Chester communities.

For several years now the Chester CAFOD Support Group has raised hundreds of pounds each Easter thanks to Judy one of our founder members who  has been responsible for the annual preparation and sale of Easter Chickens. During lent a team of knitters led by Judy have created the rare breeds, whilst parishioners have been invited to provide the chocolate eggs that will fill them. Then ten days before Easter, the chickens go on sale, and it is over to the wonderful staff and pupils/ students at St Clare’s Primary School and Chester Catholic High school, and our fantastic parishioners to play their part by buying these amazing chicks.  

However, 2017 it seemed would be different; with Judy not able to lead us, it looked as though  Easter would be “chicken free” this year. 

That was to underestimate the strength of the team built up over the years!  A new leader emerged and soon a  team of knitters were at work and the annual request for chocolate eggs appeared in the parish newsletter,  and this lovely “tradition” was secured for another year.  Despite us having less time, ( with a later than usual start and the need for earlier sales in the schools as they broke up for Easter on 31 March) chickens of every hew and breeds, never before seen,  started to hatch and supplies sent to the schools for sale, and then with one week to go , we were completely sold out of chickens. 

 Our huge thanks go to all concerned: our generous and loyal knitters, fillers and buyers all made sure this annual sale happened again and, as a result, they have raised £ 542 for CAFOD’s Emergency Appeal for countries affected by famine in East Africa.

Find out more about our East Africa crisis appeal

 Although the needles are once again still, there is talk of us  making an earlier start next year …….”