In September, CAFOD Birmingham and Newman University welcomed Lizzie, 24 years old, onto their Step into the Gap programme. Lizzie, who is placed within the Chaplaincy team at Newman, shares her experiences so far…
What is your role as a step into the gap volunteer?
At Newman University, I promote global justice by engaging students and staff in fundraising and campaigning activities including a weekly soup kitchen, Fairtrade chocolate stall and One World international development society meetings. Our team leads prayer sessions and, with our door always open, provides a listening ear and pastoral support. In addition, I visit schools, parishes and groups across the Archdiocese and try to inspire them to act for change through CAFOD!
Why were you attracted to the role?
I was passionate to immerse both myself and others within international development, to give a voice to and to stand in solidarity with those experiencing poverty, injustice and corruption overseas and to put my faith into action.
Step into the Gap at Newman University and CAFOD Birmingham provided the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the work of CAFOD here in the Birmingham Archdioces and of course overseas and to work with a wide range of people, of all ages, backgrounds and faiths all passionate for change.
What has been the best moment?
The overseas visit to Zimbabwe in January was transformative, eye-opening and really brought overseas development alive. In particular, accompanying nurses on home visits to HIV and AIDS patients and witnessing the perseverance, energy and commitment for change of the CAFOD partners and communities was extremely moving and something that will forever inspire me.
Equally, the opportunity to work within the close-knit, friendly and supportive Newman community has been a real highlight. The opportunity to share the stories of and give a voice to the communities in Zimbabwe on campus and across the Archdiocese of Birmingham feels a real privilege.
What have you learnt this year?
I’ve learnt the importance of faith and hope. I’ve been inspired to explore my faith and to make a more active commitment to living it out. I’ve also been touched by the faith and hope of communities around the world and have felt the connectivity of all members of the global Church community to help our brothers and sisters wherever they are .
In addition, I’ve had my horizons broadened by new cultures and perspectives, my eyes opened to the reality of poverty and injustice and have been extremely encouraged and inspired by the transformation that CAFOD is making to people’s daily lives; it is living out the scripture of John: ‘I have come so that you may have life and have it to the full’ (John 10:10).
What skills do you think you have gained which will be most help in the future
The opportunity to take something from the initial idea to implementation and evaluation has seen me develop a huge range of new skills. These include event management, budgeting and communicating with the media. I’ve also become much more confident in liaising with a wide range of people, delivering presentations, public speaking, taking the initiative and problem solving.
If I’m interested, how do I apply?
Applications to CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme at Newman University for next academic year are open. To find out more and apply, visit http://www.cafod.org.uk/Education/CAFOD-Gap-year . Applications close 29th May.