Do you know your local MP? Interested in influencing their decisions? We need you!

We are on a bit of a mission to recruit more people who are willing to write to their local MP a few times a year.

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.

Download our handy guide to lobbying your MP

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.

Join us on Saturday 28 October to lobby Sainsbury’s “Don’t ditch Fairtrade!”

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?

 

#WalesStandsUp to climate change

Can you help Wales stand up to Climate change with this very simple action?

Climate change is the single biggest threat to the people and places we love, both here in the UK and overseas. This autumn, Wales’ Environment Secretary, Lesley Griffiths will be going to Bonn, Germany, to attend the UN climate conference COP 23.

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Swansea campaigners stage Sainsbury’s protest over threat to Fairtrade tea

Sally, Stuart, Paul, Stella and Sue

Swansea and Pontyberem residents have delivered a letter of protest to the Sainsbury’s Superstore in Quay Parade to challenge the supermarket’s decision to abandon the Fairtrade mark on some of its own-brand tea in favour of its own scheme.

On Friday 1 September, CAFOD campaign volunteers took to the streets of Swansea to raise awareness of Sainsbury’s decision to replace the Fairtrade Mark on its Red Label and other selected teas with its own `fairly traded’ version.

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Menevia parishes adding their voices to energy campaign

Parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles

In August, parishioners from Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles and Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Llanelli and Holyrood and St Teilo in Tenby have been adding their support to CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign which is raising awareness of the power of the sun when it is harnessed as a renewable energy source – producing electricity in developing countries.

Parishioners signed campaign cards after Mass in both parishes.  Many thanks to Fr Mansel Usher, Fr James Sweeney and Fr Hart (standing in for Fr Michael Fewell) for their support in getting this important message out to a wider audience.

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Making our voices heard

Fr Nicholas James with members of the liveSimply group, Lynne, Lis, Elizabeth, Kim and Lynne

The July liveSimply meeting at St Mary’s RC Church in Monmouth saw members kick off their parish involvement with CAFOD’s Power to Be campaign. 

Parish priest, Fr Nick James, lead from the front, being the first person to sign a card. 

The campaign card itself is being sent to Melanie Robinson, UK Executive director at the World Bank petitioning her to stay true to the UK’s commitment to tackling poverty and climate change by supporting access to renewable, safe, reliable and affordable energy for the poorest communities. 

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Meeting with MP for the Power to Be

Lis Teiser, Dr Jesse Norman, MP and Therese Warwick

On Friday 14 July, members of the LiveSimply group in Monmouth/Ross-on-Wye parishes met with Dr Jesse Norman MP at his surgery in the Larruperz Centre in Ross.

CAFOD recently launched a new campaign during the Climate Coalition’s Week of Action at the beginning of July.  In case you missed it – it’s called the Power to Be.

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Campaigning in Cardiff and Menevia

Campaign co-ordinators -Paul, Stella (Menevia), John (Cardiff) and Therese (Herefordshire)

On Monday 22 May, our new Campaign co-ordinators met in the Cardiff Volunteer Centre to look at the new Power to Be campaign and how we would like more of our parish communities in Cardiff and Menevia to put their faith into action by getting involved in campaigning on behalf of the world’s poorest communities.

Stella Westmacott and her husband Paul, have a wealth of knowledge about environmental issues and based in the lovely parish of Holy Cross, Pontyberem near Carmarthen.  John Fellows is our go-to campaigner in the Metropolitan Cathedral in Cardiff where he is parishioner.

We are looking to get as many people as possible involved in CAFOD’s next week of action on climate change, coming up from 1- 9 July 2017.

We are here to help encourage and support people to organise local events during the week, and if possible, inviting their newly elected local MP to join them.

CAFOD exercises strong and transparent stewardship of your donations to ensure that the money reaches the communities in most need.

But campaigning is an intrinsic part of our work.  We need to raise awareness of the root cases of poverty and the structures that keep people in poverty.  Sadly climate change hit the world’s poorest communities first and hardest.

So we are looking for volunteers to help with the Power To Be campaign.  It’s a sad fact but one in six people in the world are still living without electricity. The hopes of millions of children are too often a distant dream.

Kieran O’Brien with Campaign co-ordinators

Here are the answers to many frequently asked questions.

There are many ways to get involved and Stella, John and Therese will be contacting parishes across the dioceses to ask if you can get involved.

If you would like more information before their call, then please get in touch.

The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world, especially Africa, where a rise in temperature, together with drought, has proved devastating for farming. Pope Francis (Laudato Si’ #51)

 

Hustings in Swansea

Michael Doyle, Campaign volunteer from Tenby

On the last evening in May (Wednesday 31), the stage was set for International Hustings in Swansea at St Mary’s Church.

The event was jointly organised by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and the Church in Wales and was chaired by the Rt Revd John Davies, Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.

It was an opportunity for our campaign volunteers from CAFOD to question representatives from the main political parties about key international issues within the remit of Westminster and the UK government.

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