Pupils at St Mary’s RC High School in Lugwardine, Hereford are making their voices heard to the UK’s representative at the World Bank, Melanie Robinson. They are raising their concerns about the lack of access to renewable energy for some of the world’s poorest people.
CAFOD South Wales was invited into the school to talk to members of de Paul at their house assembly, specifically about this issue. CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign is calling for more investment in local, renewable energy in developing countries.
Why? Because 1 in 6 people in the world live without access to electricity. Children have to rely on unpredictable, dangerous and unhealthy energy sources such as candles, paraffin lamps and firewood.
Nearly 90 % of people without access to electricity live in villages. It can be difficult and very expensive to extend the electricity grid to homes, clinics and schools in rural areas.
Local, renewable energy can transform the lives of children. It can help families to lift themselves out of poverty, without harming the environment. And the fastest, cheapest and most efficient solution is usually to provide “mini-grids” that are powered by renewable energy.
On Saturday 18 November, CAFOD supporters from across the Archdiocese of Cardiff travelled to the peaceful environs of the Tŷ Croeso centre just outside Cwmbran in south-east Wales (for those of you who don’t know this beautiful part of the world) for a retreat on Blessed Oscar Romero, lead by Libby Abbott from our Campaigns team in Romero House, London.
Earlier this summer “Eye on Wales” followed a group from the Pembrokeshire town of Narberth as they prepared to welcome a family of Syrian refugees to west Wales.
Croeso Arberth was one of the first in the country to help a Syrian family escape life in a refugee camp in the Middle East under the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Scheme.
Five months on, Sarah Moore revisits Narberth to catch up with Croeso Arberth and meet the family to find out how they are settling in to their new home.
Click here for the programme this evening at 18.30 on BBC Radio Wales and Wales Online
This November CAFOD are holding Memorial Masses in each diocese in remembrance of all our supporters and loved ones who have died.
These Masses are our opportunity to stop and say thank you for the incredible impact our supporters have made. Without them we would not be able to reach those most in need.
There is a Memorial Mass this evening (Tuesday) 7 November for the Cardiff Archdiocese at 7 pm at Our Lady, Queen of Martyrs parish, 101 Belmont Road Hereford by kind permission of Father Mathew Carney OSB.
These wonderful people are called MP correspondents or MPCs in CAFOD speak.
Your local MP is your link to Parliament. They influence decisions which affect the future of the world’s poorest people.
By agreeing to become a CAFOD MPC, you can raise your voice to ensure that the voices of many of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are heard in the corridors of power.
We know that Campaigning works. It’s powerful because it addresses injustice and poverty head on.
Through letters and meetings with MPs, CAFOD supporters have already helped change government policy. We’ve helped secure tough laws to tackle climate change, and ensure the UK is a world leader in its overseas aid contribution.
And it’s thanks to many of you that we’ve also witnessed some historic breakthroughs.
In making your voices heard to your local MP, campaigners are invaluable in supporting CAFOD’s work.
As Adrian Chiles, put it so succinctly: “At CAFOD we always keep in mind the millions of people around the world still fighting and dying for the rights that we’re exercising here…. We should never take those rights for granted.
“We need our political leaders and MPs to come together and do everything in their power to try to tackle the big issues that affect us all. And we can all do our bit, not just by voting but by speaking to our MPs, marching, signing petitions, doing anything we can to make sure the voices of the poorest communities in the world are heard.”
So we are appealing for more people to come forward and sign up to become an MPC to make sure that our neighbours around the world are kept on the political agenda and not forgotten.
So what is involved?
CAFOD MP Correspondents (MPC) write to their MP to raise awareness and understanding of the causes of poverty and justice. This is normally linked to CAFOD campaigns – but not always. By writing a letter a few times a year, correspondents start to build a personal connection with their MP and are able to get their attention and give them a mandate to act.
MPCs cover about 80% of the constituencies, that is over 450 MPs. This has enormous potential to influence international and domestic policy.
If you are looking to put your faith into action, but feel you are short of time, then this is the ideal role for you!
When you sign up to be an MPC you will receive letters or emails from us – three or four times a year only, asking you to contact your MP when you can make a real difference.
You can download our helpful MP Correspondent Guide which tells you how to get in touch with your MP and gives you our top lobbying tips.
Letters and emails to MPs have a huge impact, especially when they are personalised and you say why you care about the issue. MPs know that if one of their constituents writes to them on an issue, there are at least ten others who do care, but don’t have time to put pen to paper.
So your help and your voice really does make a difference.
To register your interest, sign up here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to fill in your details. If you want to chat things through, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us or call the South Wales volunteer centre on 02920 344 882. We’d love to hear from you.
Sainsbury’s is the largest retailer of Fairtrade products in the UK. They’ve decided to abandon Fairtrade certification on some of their own-brand tea products and pilot their own scheme instead, known as ‘Fairly Traded’.
We are concerned that this new ‘Fairly Traded’ tea and any products that follow it, could mean an unfair deal for poor farmers.
Can you join us on Saturday 28 October to register our dismay at this decision by Sainsbury’s? We are meeting at the Sainsbury’s store near Queen Street station in Cardiff at 12.30 pm as part of a nationwide “Day of Action.”
We will be delivering a letter of protest to Sainsbury’s to challenge their decision to abandon the Fairtrade mark and we need your support to help us raise awareness of their decision to replace the Fairtrade Mark on its Red Label and other selected teas with its own `fairly traded’ version.
Online petitions asking Sainsbury’s to keep the Fairtrade mark have already attracted over 130,000 signatures. But they remain unmoved to date
If you are unable to join us on 28 October in Cardiff, why not take action yourself and tell Sainsbury’s not to ditch Fairtrade. You can personalise and print out this letter to Sainsbury’s and get as many people in your parish to sign it.
Fairtrade guarantees tea producers receive an additional `premium’ payment – on top of the price of their tea – to invest in their businesses and communities as they see fit.
CAFOD supporters are concerned that tea farmers will lose control of the social premium they would earn under Sainsbury’s alternative scheme, which stipulates that suppliers have to apply to a UK-based board for their funding.
They are also worried that standards will be controlled by Sainsbury’s, and will not be set independently. Tea farmers will not be represented in the scheme’s governance – in stark contrast to Fairtrade certification where producers are part of the decision making process about how standards are set, monitored and reviewed.
It’s estimated that nearly a quarter of a million tea farmers and workers will be affected.
Last month a group of Swansea residents and CAFOD supporters was was moved to protest against at Sainsbury’s decision to trial their own scheme as they feel that the Fairtrade mark is instantly recognisable.
“As consumers, we make a conscious decision to buy Fairtrade tea. We are confident that when buying Fairtrade, it’s a guarantee of a fair price and a fair deal for the millions of farmers in developing countries who produce the tea we love to drink.”
“We feel that the term “fairly traded” is disingenuous. People will be confused and it’s really misleading. They will think Sainsbury’s tea is Fairtrade and not know the difference. What’s next after tea? Bananas? Coffee? We are disgusted with this scheme which means that the farmers will no longer be able to decide what’s best for them in their communities – some anonymous board in the Uk will decide for them.”
The protests are part of a nationwide campaign supported by CAFOD, Christian Aid, The Women’s Institute, Traidcraft Exchange and Tearfund calling on the supermarket to reconsider this pilot scheme.
The group said, “Wales is the first Fairtrade nation, let’s keep it that way!”
British tea drinkers account for three quarters of Fairtrade tea sales globally, with Sainsbury’s the world’s largest retailer of Fairtrade.
The Fairtrade Foundation was founded in 1992 by a group of charities including CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Traidcraft, to create a market of better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for small-scale farmers. The Fairtrade Foundation estimates more than 1.65 million farmer and workers in 74 countries now get a better deal from Fairtrade.
Therese Warwick, South Wales representative of the aid agency CAFOD said: “Buying Fairtrade tea is a proven way to make a difference every time we drink a cup of tea, and the action by our Swansea volunteers shows the mark is wide supported in Swansea and the surrounding areas, and indeed, across the country.”
“Sainsbury’s have been a leading retailer of Fairtrade products, making a real difference to the lives of tea farmers and their families in some of the world’s poorest countries. We’d like them to reconsider this decision to remove the Fairtrade mark from their own-brand tea.”
And why not explore more about becoming a Fairtrade parish?
During the Harvest Mass led by St Joseph’s Primary School on 8th October, in thanksgiving for God’s generosity to us, provision was made for those in need both near and far.
A number of heavy carrier bags were presented at the Offertory for sharing between the local foodbank and the Sisters of Charity in Swansea; and the CAFOD Harvest Fast Day collection was taken up at the end of the celebration in support of farmers like Edelmira in El Salvador.
Following the Mass, a number of children and adults made their way to Our Lady’s Grotto where they generously scattered wildflower seeds in prepared areas of ground.
In the Summer of 2018 we hope that these seeds will grow into not only a colourful feast for human eyes, but also produce an abundance of nectar for many bees and other vital pollinators.
Time will tell…
Thank you to Sandra Davies for sending through this lovely report.
The Missionaries of Charity do great work in the City of Swansea. They are based at 235, The Strand, SA1 2AW. Every day they feed the homeless of Swansea and can accommodate 12 people every night who need a place to sleep. It was the last overseas house that Mother Teresa herself opened.