Thank you to all CAFOD local volunteers in our Diocese

National Volunteers Week started yesterday.

We want to take this opportunity to say “THANK YOU” to all the wonderful school and parish volunteers across the Diocese of Leeds who put their faith into action and help others to care for our common home.



1-7 June marks Volunteers’ Week – an annual celebration of the millions of people who give up their time to help their communities and country. And this year, there are more people to thank than ever before.

For ore information about how to celebrate our volunteers click here

A record-breaking year

6,305 CAFOD volunteers in England and Wales across 15 volunteering roles gave an average of 27,862 hours each month.

That’s the equivalent of 334,344 hours over the course of a year – a record-breaking 100,000 more hours than last year!

The SPARK of Social Justice in Leeds

Written by CAFOD volunteer Matty Maslen


CAFOD has joined a number of organisations and charities from the Diocese of Leeds in coming together during this period of lockdown to help the local project SPARK to provide a series of online videos encouraging young people to become active in social justice causes.Spark pic

In 2019, the Diocese’s Justice and Peace Commission, a group which has been active in the area for over 45 years, launched a project called SPARK. SPARK is an ‘Arts in Faith’ project for young people aged 16-30, rooted in drama and theatre. Aoibheann Kelly, a theatre professional and the project director, uses drama to provide a space to have challenging conversations and explore ways in which young people can make a difference.

When SPARK began, it identified poverty and climate change as key issues that it would explore. These are principle focuses of CAFOD’s work to ensure that every man, woman and child has a full and dignified life.

SPARK is an ‘Arts in Faith’ project for young people aged 16-30, rooted in drama and theatre. Aoibheann Kelly, a theatre professional and the project director, uses drama to provide a space to have challenging conversations and explore ways in which young people can make a difference.

Under normal circumstances, SPARK delivers interactive workshops in schools, parishes and colleges and the group have been particularly active in Leeds Trinity University. However, the group has had to adapt to the new world that the Covid-19 Lockdown presents. Although the group only started to run sessions in September 2019, it has already delivered them to almost 300 young people across the Diocese.

Over the past few weeks, Aoibheann has been working hard to organise a set of video episodes so that the momentum for action that the sessions have been creating is not lost.

In the first of these online episodes, Marc Besford the National President of YCW (Young Christian Workers), and the National Secretary of YCW, Ben Sinclair, joined Aoibheann. In this episode, the group explored youth leadership and examples of inspirational young people who have taken positive action to help others.

The second episode, led by Tom Chigbo from Leeds Citizens, will look at how young people can set up their own social justice action group both during lockdown and beyond.

For the third episode, Sarah Barber, CAFOD’s Youth Programme Team Leader, and Bronagh Daly, CAFOD’s Community Participation Co-ordinator for Leeds will be joining Aoibheann. They will discuss volunteering opportunities and ways of making a difference during the lockdown period to ensure, as Bronagh said: “no one is beyond reach.”.

The following episode will feature John Battle, former MP for Leeds West and a community activist, who will be talking about his passion for social justice.

When SPARK was initially formed, it recognised CAFOD’s success at working with and engaging young people under 30 in its volunteering programmes and campaigns. Within Catholic schools, CAFOD is a well-known and active charity. With school Lenten appeals, the ‘Step into the Gap’ programme and office, parish and school volunteering opportunities, CAFOD provides a range of ways for young people to get involved.

During this time of social distancing, many young people will have found they have more time to consider how to put both their faith and their passion for social justice into action. SPARK’s video episodes provide a space to ask important questions and opportunities to answer them.

The group’s motto is a South African saying which reads: “Many little people, in many little places, who do many little things, can change the face of the earth”. SPARK’s online sessions show that although we may be separated, the call for a fairer, safer world is still sounding and it brings us together.


SPARK’s first session is available now on YouTube. See:

To keep updated on when new episodes are posted follow SPARK on Facebook at @SPARKsocialjustice or visit their website:

CAFOD’s volunteering opportunities for young people:

Diocese of Leeds Justice and Peace Commission:

Young Christian Workers:

Leeds Citizens:

Top tips to get your congregation get online

Following the Coronavirus outbreak, many parishes have moved their services online. In the initial few days of lockdown, our local CAFOD worker Bronagh Daly volunteered her Sunday to bring an online version of Children’s Liturgy to young families, interested in keeping a bit of normality to their Sunday routine.

online pic of the liturgy2020

There are so many different tools to help people get online, but it can be difficult to know where to start. CAFOD volunteer Serga Collett, from St Laurence’s church in Cambridge, shares her top tips:

  1. Create a social media community

“Father is working hard to create a community – this is an interesting process and it’s amazing how quickly people have mobilised. Social media is always there. It is such an immediate way to contact people, which is so good.” CAFOD has its own Facebook community too!

  1. Use existing channels to promote new things

“We now live-steam masses every day and post about them in our weekly newsletter and on Facebook to remind everyone.” Diocese of Leeds online streaming

  1. Set up a tech team of parish volunteers

“We have an amazing tech team. If anyone visits the church website and has a problem, the number for the tech team is on there and they can help. This is especially important for parishioners who aren’t used to everything being online.”

  1. Use online tools to set up meetings

“We have used meeting platforms such as Zoom to have an ‘Ablaze’ mass experience for our confirmation candidates.” In the Diocese of Leeds, maybe we could set up an online group for CAFOD volunteers to discuss how we can all stay connected in these challenging time. Send me an email to Bronagh know your ideas and availability.

  1. Even if you encounter difficulties, make sure to persevere

“In these times, computers are a real live-saver. Through technology, you can see how many people are out there, and while you can’t meet them face to face, you can still see them and speak to them.”

You can read Serga’s full blog here: And, if you would like to share your story, do get in touch.

What treasured item has helped get you through lockdown?


Ellouise with book and coffee

Elouise and her treasured cuppa and good book!

The period of lockdown has been a massive change for all of us – and each one of us has that one special item that has helped get us through.

Here at the CAFOD, we’re creating a story about the items that have helped our supporters and volunteers across the country stay happy and healthy during lockdown.


Whether it is knitting needles, a musical instrument, a yoga mat or mixing bowl – we’d love to compile all your stories and share them on the CAFOD website and in the media.


If you’d like to get involved, then please email a landscape picture of yourself holding your treasured item along with your name, age, profession, location, and 50-75 words about your treasured item to Elouise in our media team:


Connecting to the wider church


Founding mothers

Founding mothers of CAFOD 

Thanks to streaming technology, many parishes are now able to live-stream Sunday mass – and the theology team here at CAFOD have been working hard to create time to connect the wider CAFOD family.

On Thursday 23 April we have an online opportunity for prayer and chat. And, next Wednesday 29 April, Fr Liam will be saying mass for all CAFOD volunteers and supporters at 6pm.

You can sign up to both talks here:

We hope you have a wonderful week, and if you’d like to get in touch, please feel free to ring or email us on: or call Bronagh Daly on her CAFOD mobile 07748 514641