Kayleigh is one of our Step into the Gap programme volunteers, who is leaving to visit our partners in Sierra Leone tomorrow. We wish her a safe journey and will keep her and all the Gappers in our prayers.
Here’s an insight from Kayleigh on the eve of her departure on January 24.
“I have been at The Briars in Derbyshire over the past 3 months as part of CAFOD’s Step into the Gap programme.
I have always been aware of CAFOD and their work but I’ve never looked into the values and the partners that they have. I started to get really interested in the work of CAFOD when my sister, Eleanor, did the Step into the Gap placement in 2013/2014.
I was privileged to hear all about how they work with so many different partners around the world. I also got to hear her first-hand experience of getting to go to Sierra Leone as part of the international visit with CAFOD.
When she came back from the visit, I could tell that she was truly moved by the communities that she met whilst she was out there, and I remember thinking that that was incredible. Since then, I had always yearned for the same experience as I could see how beneficial it was for my sister.
I graduated in July of last year and over this past year I was working in local café, feeling as though I wasn’t living up to my potential and wasting my time. After searching around for new job possibilities, I came across an application form for the Step into the Gap programme and I felt this immediate push to go and apply.
Since being here at The Briars, I have had, and continue to have, the wonderful opportunity to share the work of CAFOD and enlighten so many young people about the communities around the world who, without the help of charities and agencies like CAFOD, would be unable to get their call for help heard.
It’s so rewarding to see them get so interested and passionate about the message of loving your neighbour that CAFOD strives for.
At The Briars, I am on placement with another ‘gapper’, Ciara, and together we use our morning prayer time and workshop sessions to help the young people be aware of many of the issues facing communities such as El Salvadorians and Sierra Leoneans, for example; recovery from the landslide that affected Sierra Leone, and also the crisis of companies selling tainted seeds to El Salvadorian farmers meaning that they yield in a much less valuable and unsustainable crop.
I’ve only gotten more passionate about social justice since being at The Briars as I am constantly learning new things about the communities that I will be visiting in January. I am also being so inspired by the amount of care and concern that the young people who visit the retreat centre have.
I am constantly being surprised by the constant level of kindness; I receive questions about my trip and my work for CAFOD and every time I get asked about it, I get more and more excited.
When I get back from visiting Sierra Leone, I will get the opportunity to visit groups of young people about my experience and what I’ve learnt, and I am so keen to get out there to tell them about the people of Sierra Leone as I already know that they are invested in what I will be seeing and who I will be meeting.
I cannot contain my gratitude and excitement and I truly acknowledge that this programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me and I am so dedicated to making the most out of this year and growing in my passion for social justice.”
Applications for CAFOD’s gap year programme next year are open now. . For anyone aged 18 – 30, it’s a fantastic opportunity to volunteer in the UK, gain experience, develop leadership skills and visit CAFOD partners overseas. For all information about this very rewarding opportunity and how to apply visit or contact Catherine Jones 0207 095 5308 or email her.
Applications close on 19 February, so your help in promoting this opportunity would be hugely appreciated.
You can see a couple of promotional films about the programme here.