Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns launches Share the Journey campaign in Menevia

Earlier this month, Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns of the Diocese of Menevia added his support to Pope Francis’ call for the need to build relationships between migrants, refugees and local communities.

Bishop Tom endorsed Share the Journey, the global campaign launched by the Holy Father in September last year, as he joined other world leaders and bishops in making the “Reach Out” gesture of welcome – which is at the heart of the campaign – stretching his arms out wide.

“Hope is what drives the hearts of those who depart… it is also what drives the hearts of those who welcome: the desire to meet each other, get to know each other, to dialogue.”  Pope Francis.

 

The Share the Journey campaign is being supported by more than 200 Catholic organisations around the world.  CAFOD and Caritas Social Action in England and Wales (CSAN) and Caritas sisters agencies in over 40 countries.

The campaign is calling on all governments, and us, as individuals, to play our part in welcoming and protecting people who are forced to flee their own homes because of persecution, poverty and emergencies.

Inspired by Pope Francis’ special concern for people on the move, we are asking the people of England and Wales to step up and make their voices heard as world leaders draw up ambitious new UN agreements (compacts) on migration and refugees in September and December of this year.    There are many resources available to support you, but one of the easiest ways to add your voice is by signing the online petition.

 “If we bond with refugees and migrants, we will break down the barriers with which some are trying to separate us. The campaign reaches out to recognise, restore and share our common humanity.”   Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis

To support the campaign we are attempting to walk 24,900 miles – the distance around the whole world.  We are hoping that many parishes across the Menevia diocese will get involved in this act of solidarity, to Share the Journey with our global neighbours fleeing their homes.

Bishop Thomas Matthew Burns with Fr Mansel Usher at The Mumbles

Every step you take, together with others from across the country, will send a message to world leaders that we want them to step up too; to act with courage and compassion.

To learn more about the Catholic church’s response to the refugee crisis, CAFOD has produced a useful factsheet.  And here are some frequently asked questions about the refugee crisis.

If you want to get involved, you can download a copy of the Share the Journey organiser’s guide to get all the information you need.   And there are free campaign (cards) which you can order or please get in touch with us and we can support you as much as possible.

One of the most important questions we can ask ourselves as individuals, communities and countries at this time of mass movements of people and global doubt is ‘Do I allow fear to prevail in my heart, or do I allow hope to reign?’

“Through ‘Share the Journey’ we hope to dispel fear and understand why so many people are leaving their homes at this time in history.  We also want to inspire communities to build relationships with refugees and migrants.  We want to shine a light and lead the way.  Migration is a very old story but our campaign aims to help communities see it with new eyes and an open heart.” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila

You may want to know more about the position of the Catholic Church in England  and Wales on the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe?

I hope this helps: CAFOD’s mandate from the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is to support poor communities overseas.  CSAN (the Catholic Social Action Network) is the social action arm of the Catholic Church for work in England and Wales.  Their members support refugees who have already arrived in the UK, and they do advocacy work on poverty in the UK.  Together CAFOD and CSAN form Caritas England and Wales.

Both organisations support the Share the Journey campaign.

 

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?

 

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Christmas greetings to all in Cardiff and Menevia

S Wales CAFOD volunteers

CAFOD volunteers get together to enjoy a Christmas lunch and chew the fat over a busy 2016.

Merry Christmas to all of our friends across the dioceses of Cardiff and Menevia.

On Monday 12 December, we were very pleased to welcome some of our wonderful volunteers to the Cardiff Volunteer Centre to participate in a short Advent service and enjoy a festive lunch.

A dozen of some of our most dedicated volunteers were in attendance and it was a wonderful opportunity to get together and discuss all that has gone on in our parishes and schools in 2016. It was great to catch up with some familiar faces and share our experiences of supporting CAFOD over the last year. Continue reading