Thank you for taking part in the Big IF Rally

Saturday was an  incredible day. We have been working towards this day for many months. But it still felt pretty surreal, standing in Hyde Park, the Big IF G8 Rally *finally* happening. 

About the author: Eilidh Macpherson is a campaigner working in London

Watch the highlights of the Big IF G8 Rally.

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It was last August that I went to my first Enough Food For Everyone … IF campaign meeting, and I remember feeling overwhelmed by the task in front of us.

I was a student in Edinburgh during Make Poverty History. I still remember being blown away by the scale of that day: the numbers of people that had travelled from all over the country, the atmosphere of ambition and solidarity, as well as the inspiring speakers.

Big protests and mobilisations are important times. They’re moments when the fight for global justice gets a brief mention on the front pages, when politicians of all parties see a manifestation of the huge public support for development, have the potential to have a huge impact on those involved. At events like Saturday, we stand in solidarity with those suffering from inequality in the food system, holding decision makers to account and demanding they act on our broken food system. Days like this also give first time campaigners like I was in Edinburgh a lifelong passion for holding placards and fighting for what they believe in, and veteran activists a chance to share their energy and ambition with others.

Saturday had so many memorable moments. A few that stood out were: watching a sea of campaigners from all over the country arrive with placards and homemade banners from Westminster Central Hall; seeing CAFOD’s loaves and fishes hats – everywhere; a panicky moment where by sister took a break from her face painting duties and I drew a few terrible fish on small children; David Harewood being brilliant on the main stage; and sitting in the sun talking to people who had turned up to play football or have picnics and stayed for the rally!

I’d been worried that the Big IF wouldn’t live up to the memories I had of Make Poverty History in Edinburgh. I shouldn’t have worried.

It’s the people involved that make these events special. It’s the campaigners that get on buses to travel to London, spreading the message before hand in their churches, schools and communities. 

See more pictures of the day >>

Days like this are also measured in their impact. Beyond any commitments we may get, (or don’t get), over the next week of important summits and negotiations, I’m confident that the energy and messages of the Big IF, will go on to inspire incredible results over the next months and years.

Five Years Fairtrade

This year we celebrate five years of Wales being a Fairtrade Country.

On June 5th it will have been five years since a unique declaration of intent was signed by twenty-two local and national politicians, church leaders, voluntary workers, union representatives, retailers and educationists.  They gathered together at NEWI (What is now Glyndwr University) to launch the Wrexham Fairtrade Coalition.

The Coalition worked towards obtaining Fairtrade Status for Wrexham County Borough; this would be a first in Wales. It would engender an ethical buying policy of goods with the Fairtrade kite mark and would ensure real benefits for producers in developing countries.

The fair trade campaign seeks greater equity in international trade and offers better trading conditions and rights for marginalised producers and workers.

Fair trade guarantees set minimum price to farmers for their products, which covers the cost of sustainable production and adds a premium to be spent on social or economic projects.

Fair trade products include fruit and vegetables, footballs, chocolate and clothing.

The campaign was launched by political leaders in 2006 in a joint initiative with Scotland.

The campaign in Wales has seen the WFTF, which has received funding from the assembly government, encourage schools, businesses and other organisations to switch to fair trade products.

Chris Pilsbury of TCC (Together Creating communities) said: “Together we had a vision for Fairtrade at home and overseas. We knew we had to get recognition for overseas first. Part of that, again organising teaching, was to help Wrexham Council see it was in its self-interest to actively support and make policies to do so, which it did.”

On June 5th 2008 Wales was declared the world’s first fair trade nation by campaigners, for the progress it has made increasing the availability of such goods.

Tour De Fred

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Tour de Fred

This June, 68-year-old Fred Uttley is cycling around all 22 dioceses of England and Wales for CAFOD.

The volunteer from Salford diocese will cycle more than 1,000 miles between Catholic churches and cathedrals around England and Wales, raising money to support small-scale farmers in Rajshahi, Bangladesh and raising awareness of CAFOD’s Hungry for Change campaign.

Tour De Fred will be visiting the Wrexham Diocese on Saturday 15th June 2013.

His ride will approximately take 2 hours and 45 minutes, starting from Wrexham Cathedral and ending at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Travelling a distance of 32 miles.

Fred Will be setting off from Wrexham Cathedral at 10 am, why not come down and wave him off on his way to show your support.

Tour De Fred Poster

http://www.cafod.org.uk/Fundraise/Sponsored-events/Tour-de-Fred

Pantasaph – Annual Supporters Day

Join CAFOD North Wales for our annual supporter day on Saturday 11th May 2013.

From 11 am until 5 pm in Pantasaph Franciscan Friary Pilgrim Hall and Grounds there will be Fairtrade Stalls, activities for Children, Way of the Cross, Shared Meal, Afternoon Workshops and more.

This year at our annual supporters day we will be attempting to raise awareness for CAFOD’s current campaign ‘Enough Food For Everyone – IF’ which had its North Wales Launch on Friday, January 25 outside St Mary’s Cathedral in Regent Street.

The campaign calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to use the UK’s G8 presidency this year to take action on the root causes of hunger in the poorest countries.

This year’s key note speaker is Claire Dixon, head of the CAFOD Latin America Team, promises to deliver a brilliant talk.

Pantasaph day starts with teas and coffees from 10:30am, followed by:

11 am: Welcome by Clare Dixon, head of CAFOD Latin America team.

12pm: The Way of the Cross

1 pm: A Shared Lunch.

2 pm: Workshops for all ages, including youth workshop; activities for children; talk by Clare Dixon and music practice.

3 pm: More refreshments

4 pm: Celebration of Mass in St David’s church

5 pm: Hot dogs and departures

Whether you are a long-term CAFOD supporter, or completely new to CAFOD we would love to have you come along. And as always, should you have any questions about the day please do not hesitate to contact the CAFOD North Wales office.

We hope to see you on the 11th May 2013.

Prepare for Christmas with an Advent App

You can download the app here:

http://tinyurl.com/cb8hzdu

Additionally, if you would prefer to pause for a moment while at your desk there is also an online Advent calendar for daily reflections: www.cafod.org.uk/Pray/Advent-Calendar

North Wales is Hungry for Change

On Saturday, 10th November CAFOD officially launched ‘Hungry for Change’, a campaign which is calling for fundamental changes in the global food system so that power is more justly shared between rich and poor people, and more people can have access to enough food. It is estimated that 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food. Hunger is the world’s No 1 health risk, killing more people every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

250 campaigners from England and Wales gathered at the launch in Westminster Cathedral Hall to show their support and learn more about the campaign. Among the campaigners were 5 young people and 2 members of CAFOD staff from North Wales.

The North Wales campaigners with Maria-Elena and Fr Joe.

Martha Barnes was one of these young campaigners, and this is what she said about the day here:

Great Generation: Hungry For Change

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A big thank you ! CAFOD PANTASAPH DAY and Lent 2012

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(Photo: Students from the Catholic Chaplaincy in Bangor with  Fr. Hagos Hayish, Secretary General from Caritas Ethiopia and Chris Bain, Director of CAFOD in England and Wales)

A huge thank you from the CAFOD team for all the wonderful people who helped on the day and made this annual event a beacon of hope and a shining symbol of our solidarity with the poor once again. 

 Special thanks go to the many schools that came along and contributed in different ways to the success of the day.  The youth group of Buckley gave a brief presentation on their fundraising efforts and the family commission supported us with activities in the craft tent.

Over 100 people came along, to meet Chris Bain, CAFOD Director, who thanked supporters of Wrexham Diocese for their tireless commitment over the past 50 years. Chris emphasised that this work could not have been achieved without highly committed volunteers in the parishes, the support of the parish priests and of course Bishop Edwin.

He explained how CAFOD grew from a Catholic Fund to working for the Bishop’s Conference in England and Wales as the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development and he laid out the vision of the years to come.

The weather was kind to us when we walked up the Way of the Cross, singing “Walk with me, O my Lord” where a group of children from Venerable Edward Morgan School played out the different stations. This year’s highlight was a liturgical dance by St. Brigid’s School, Denbigh as part of the Resurrection reflection .

In the afternoon Chris Bain answered many questions in the open forum, together with Fr Hagos Hayish, the Secretary General of Caritas Ethiopia, who kindly made time on his visit to Britain to join us.

The beautiful music and dance during the Mass with the parish of St David’s resonated in peoples’ hearts long after the Mass was finished. The Knights of St Columba were kindly waiting for us with hotdogs outside the church to see us off.

Lent 2012

Thank you all, so much, for your incredible support this Lent. The generosity of your Fast Day collections, frugal lunches, Walks for Water and prayers, and your inspiring passion for our Thirst for Change campaign has been overwhelming.

In the diocese of Wrexham an amazing amount of over £42,000 was donated during Lent.

Your donations will make an enormous difference. It means we can build more water pumps, dig more boreholes and improve sanitation, giving the poorest people a chance to live with dignity and to flourish.

Our Lent appeal is now closed but it’s not too late to send in what you raised from your fundraising activities between 17 February and 17 May. Send it in as soon as possible so we can add it to the Lent total.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami: 8 years on…

On Boxing day 2004 a devastating earthquake off the coast of Indonesia unleashed a tsunami that ripped through the villages in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand. More than 200,000 people were killed and many millions more were left homeless and saw their livelihoods destroyed.

The Catholic Community in England and Wales responded immediately and donated more than £10 million to CAFOD’s emergency appeal. We also received nearly £18 million from the Disasters Emergency committee (DEC) to help families in Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka to rebuild their lives and their futures.

8 years on projects started by the donations received by our generous supporters during the appeal are now coming to an end. On February 14th we will commemorate the disaster and the response by CAFOD and its partners by opening a new exhibition at our head office in Romero House. The exhibition will focus on:

  • The impact of the tsunami
  • The work of CAFOD’s partners in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India
  • The dignity and resilience of people affected by the disaster

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Reflections on the Tsunami and loss
by Katja Jewell.

They say you always remember what you were doing when you hear momentous news, especially sad news. I certainly do, I always remember where we were on the day the Tsunami struck South Asia, one of the biggest natural disaster in human memory. We were on the way to Germany. It was also the day Charles, my husband’s Granddad, died.

We had seen Grandma and Granddad in Llandudno a week before Christmas, the whole family; my husband Paul, his mum Jeanette, our children and myself.

On that day, Granddad was too weak to get up. We were all in the living room when the priest came to bring Holy Communion to Charles. Both Joan and Charles were very well-known to Fr. Anthony, as Joan played the organ for many years in “Stella Maris”, “Our Lady Star of the Sea” in Llandudno and Charles had embroidered a huge cross stitch of the church, which still hangs in the side chapel .

On the way out, Joan introduced us all to her Parish priest and added that I had applied for a job in CAFOD the week before. “Well,” he said “I will pray for you, that you get it” and wished us farewell.

The next weekend my husband Paul went back for a brief visit. As both are keen gardeners we had bought the Grandparents a CAFOD world gifts of seeds . World gifts were still a novelty back then, and we loved the idea that we could give a lasting present.

On that visit Charles was out of bed and even had a bite to eat, wearing a paper hat from the Christmas cracker. Paul was relieved to find him better, as we were planning to celebrate the second part of Christmas with my German family.

The journey to the South of Germany takes 18 hours nonstop driving from door step to door step, so we took off early on Boxing Day and drove into the rising sun. We were all counting down the hours in our excitement to see the family, have the treats and presents and eat, drink and be merry. As we drove along the motorway, we stopped at several service stations for refreshments, and it was in this setting where the surreal news of the Tsunami slowly unfolded on the TV screens of cold and unwelcoming coffee shops. We could not believe the pictures we saw, the images of the 30 meters high wave which took away over 200.000 lives in an instant. Our hearts were torn with the excitement coming closer to my family and the sadness of the immense suffering.  About an hour before we reached my parents home, Jeanette my mother in law rang us on the mobile and broke the news that Granddad had died. We were numb, as we had not expected that at all, and the time in Germany was overshadowed with sadness.

The funeral was 2 weeks later, delayed, due to the Christmas holidays. It felt so long to wait. In the tsunami affected countries they had hardly started to clear the rubble, thousands of people were still missing, families torn apart. Livelihoods shattered.

Eight years have passed and Joan still misses her husband like the first day, Jeanette and her siblings miss their father and we still miss Granddad. We still call the arm-chair ‘granddad’s chair’.

Only, we can still sit on it, look at the last photo of him from Christmas Eve, hold his missal and admire his embroidery. We share stories and photos with the family about him when visiting his grave on the great Orme every Boxing Day, overlooking the bay high above Llandudno. Sometimes on these visits the gust from the Welsh Sea is so strong that we all cling onto each other not to fall over. It is there where; we share the grief with all the people who lost loved ones on the same day. It is there, were we will never forget the day the Tsunami struck on Boxing Day.

 

CAFOD North Wales PANTASAPH DAY

A huge thank you from the CAFOD team in North Wales to all the wonderful people who helped on the annual Pantasaph day and made this event a beacon of hope and a shining symbol of our solidarity with the poor.

Over 70 people came along, braving the changing weather and were moved by the courage of our overseas staff  and their work in emergencies all over Africa and the World. Even longstanding volunteers who had attended many CAFOD events, were touched by the challenges Laura Donkin has to face daily, but also the fascinating stories of change, thanks to the help of ordinary people here.

The weather was kind to us when we walked up the way of the cross, singing ‘Bind us together Lord” . A group of very small children provided visual role play for the unimaginable stories of suffering  all over the world.

In the afternoon Kevin McCullough , Head of Campaign CAFOD,  talked about how Parishes could now take our live simply promise of the Catholic Church  further with the Live Simply Parish Award .

The beautiful music during the mass with our Bishop Edwin resonated in people hearts long after the mass was finished and the Knights of St Colomba kindly awaited us with the BBQ outside the church.

The day was a beautiful opportunity to say thank you to all the parishes and schools who continue to support us in Lent and throughout the year.