Small steps towards sustainable living

Stella Westmacott – living simply

“I love peanut butter. It’s a staple part of my diet,” says Stella Westmacott, a retired solicitor and CAFOD volunteer. “But a lot of peanut butter contains palm oil, which is a hugely destructive industry.”

Stella and her husband, Paul, live on a remote farm in the Welsh countryside. They made the decision to live simply following retirement. They are now almost completely self-sustainable: producing their own electricity and water, recycling all waste, and growing plenty of food.

“But we can’t grow everything,” continues Stella. “So we try to make alternatives. I make peanut butter myself with a recipe that’s so simple – just peanuts, a pinch of salt and some sunflower oil. No palm oil involved!”

Stella shared with us her knowledge and top tips – the small steps you too can take towards living sustainably.

“When I retired, I went on a permaculture course and learned so much about water: how much is wasted with every flush; how grey water (the relatively clean waste water from baths, sinks, and washing machines, etc.) disappearing down the drain has devastating effects; how all this effects the ecosystem at large.

“Here, we are not on a mains water supply, but receive our water via a borehole directly on the property. Recently, I have noticed that rainfall is becoming more extreme in Wales – lots of rainfall, followed by drought. This has made us even more mindful about our water use.”

Stella volunteers for CAFOD because she recognises the similarities of her struggle to live sustainably with those vulnerable communities overseas.

Stella organising a Creation Celebration Mass with Fr Martin Donnelly

“We decided to install water butts to collect rainfall, as well as a compost toilet and a solar shower. We use the grey water in the garden. We make our own compost. We built a polytunnel so we can grow things all year round.”

Stella is also driven by a desire to reduce energy consumption. She is an environmentalist.

“We installed solar panels on the roofs to generate electricity for our home. This heats our water. If there is any excess electricity created, it goes straight back into the grid. We are also part of a local energy cooperative focusing on producing local renewable energy.”

But what are the challenges of living sustainably?

“One of our biggest challenges was cleaning. For most of my life, I used bleach to clean. Here, we have a septic tank system that decomposes waste. If inorganic materials like bleach are added, they kill the bacteria needed for the septic tank system to work properly. Therefore, I had to put my thinking cap on. After some research, I found alternative biodegradable products!”

Stella and Paul aim to create as little waste as possible.

“Of course, we do the usual: reduce, reuse, recycle. But the main thing we try to do is not create waste in the first place. We often try to repair things if they break, rather than buy replacements. I haven’t put a single black bag of waste out since we’ve been here. I compost food and regularly visit the recycling centre. I’m very mindful about what is going where.

“Being interested in the environment, I’ve always done my best to care for it. When I lived just outside Cardiff, I did litter picking on the beach. If you’re looking to start, you can do simple things like taking a carrier bag when you’re out and about and just picking up any litter you see.

Stella & Paul with fellow parishioners – showing solidarity with migrants and refugees – as part of CAFOD’s Share the Journey campaign

“I’ve learned that everything we do, or don’t do, has an impact. It’s all about being aware of this, and doing our best to make sure that impact is not a negative one.”

This commitment to sustainability means Stella and Paul eat heartily.

“We grow artichokes, kale, beans and root vegetables, including carrots, onions and potatoes. In our polytunnel, we grow salad leaves, peppers, cucumbers, basil and coriander. We also grow lots of beetroots to make pickles, roasts and dips. We have apple trees, pear trees and strawberry beds. We inherited some asparagus beds, too.”

Inspired by her experiences, Stella thinks that everyone should have a go at growing something for themselves.

“If you have a garden and you don’t know where to start, just observe the garden for a while. Look to see where the sun is at different times of day. Think about the best places for plants to get sunlight. Begin by experimenting and trying different things.

“If you only have a little bit of space, you can easily create a wildflower meadow to attract wildlife and insects to your garden.

“I know not everyone has a garden, but you can even grow things on the windowsill, like lettuce, tomatoes and herbs. You can also grow things in pots.

“Growing things provides a deeper connection to nature, which has huge benefits for overall well-being.

“Most of the changes we have made are simple. Almost anyone can make the smaller changes in their own lives. It really takes no great skill or expertise – just an idea and a willingness to experiment.”

Find out more about CAFOD’s environmental work at cafod.org.uk/climate

The livesimply award is an opportunity for Catholic communities – parishes, schools, religious orders and chaplaincies – to respond to Pope Francis’ invitation in Laudato Si’ to “work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us”.

It is awarded to communities who can show how they have been living:

• simply

• in solidarity with people in poverty

• sustainably with creation.

Find out more about CAFOD’s liveSimply award

Take a look at our 100 liveSimply ideas

Stella’s commitment to a sustainable lifestyle with Paul is featured in the Catholic Universe this week.

Now is not the time to build barriers, but for the world to unite in love and compassion.

We need a global response to this global pandemic

People pray before Mass at a church service in the DRC. (celebrated by Abbé Michel Kabongenaje, who frequently preaches about the dangers of Ebola)

As we cope with lockdown, the coronavirus pandemic is changing all our lives.

For some of us it has been devastating, losing loved ones or desperately worrying about those who are vulnerable.

All of us feel the day-to-day impact, some facing financial hardship or working in a front-line role at greater risk.

But as people of faith, we also think of, and pray for, our sisters and brothers in developing countries who are facing this pandemic with fragile health systems:  some of which have almost no intensive care beds or ventilators.

Food prices have already risen with borders closing, the poorest are losing their jobs and income with wholesale shutdowns.

Furthermore, inadequate healthcare, lack of access to basic washing facilities and limited ability for social distancing inevitably increases the risk of contracting the disease on an incalculable scale.

Coronavirus is laying bare the inequalities that exist in our society, and for countries with health systems much more fragile than our own, the effects are likely to be even more devastating..

Despite being asked to stay at home we can still do something about this crisis.

We can use our voices here in the UK to ask our government to take practical, concrete actions to assist developing countries in the Coronavirus response.

We are all in this together, one global family. And as Pope Francis reminds us:

“We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family. There are no frontiers or barriers, political or social, behind which we can hide, still less is there room for the globalization of indifference” LS #52

Please will you sign the CAFOD petition to ask our government to work with other world leaders to help the most vulnerable people in our world to cope with this crisis?

To sign the petition online visit cafod.org.uk/coronaviruscampaign

What is the petition asking?  

It’s asking our Prime Minister to work with other world leaders to:

  •  Make sure that any vaccine developed with UK public money is made available to everyone regardless of income or where in the world they live.
  •  Provide urgent financial and technical support to help developing countries cope with this crisis.
  • Cancel all debt payments by developing countries due in 2020 so that countries can spend money on much needed healthcare rather than debt repayments.
  • Put plans in place to rebuild a fairer, more just society after the crisis so that the world’s most vulnerable people can live in dignity and to restore our common home for future generations.

 Please sign this petition to our Prime Minister today.  And please, please can we ask you to share it with your parish, your family and friends and your wider social network, if you can.

 

Even though we are no longer meeting face-to-face in parishes, there are new ways of connecting online, whether that is through parish websites, bulletins, emails or social media. 

We are in the midst of a public health challenge here in the UK, but sadly experience tells us that it will be far worse in the developing world, which is why we launched an EMERGENCY APPEAL two weeks ago.

We need a global response to this global problem and CAFOD is responding quickly. Our local experts are already in these communities helping those in need, preventing the spread of the virus and protecting lives.

We are providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for doctors and nurses at this Catholic Health Clinic and Maternity Unit in Kailahun District, Sierra Leone:

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Our common home and care for the vulnerable

Here is a lovely short film from Bishop Mark O’Toole in Plymouth Diocese – reflecting on Laudato Si’ and May, the month of Mary.

Download a copy of Laudato Si‘ – a work of Catholic Social Teaching and a way to proclaim our faith anew.

 

SUMMER OF HOPE

As we celebrate the fifth-year anniversary of Laudato Si’, now seems the perfect time to reflect on Pope Francis’ words from his ground-breaking encyclical.

His words, calling everyone to hear to ‘the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor’ seem particularly apt during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, where we have seen communities come together in solidarity to tackle the virus.

And, in the scale of the global pandemic, we are often drawn to thinking that our individual actions can’t make a difference. Yet, Pope Francis reminds us that “all it takes is one good person to restore hope.”

So, this summer, we are calling you and your family to help restore hope in your local and our global community. We are calling on you to be the signs of hope for our world.

What can I do?

Getting involved is easy.

We are inviting everyone to get involved in the Summer of Hope by recreating at home the events you will miss this summer and transforming them into a sign of hope through raising money for CAFOD’s Coronavirus Appeal.

From sports days to summer fayres, we have a whole range of ideas you can reinvent at home in our A-Z of fundraising ideas.

You can hold your socially-distanced event with your family, school community or parish – and make sure to record your efforts on social media, tagging your photos and posts with @cafod #summerofhope.

Fundraising is easy through a JustGiving page and if you’d like any help, just drop us a phone call or email on [insert local details here]. You can also donate directly through the CAFOD website.

We can’t wait to see everything you get up to!

Dermot O’Leary backs CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal

Dermot O’Leary has added his backing to our Coronavirus Appeal for people living in some of the poorest countries in the world.

The TV and radio presenter said:

“Millions of people in developing countries face devastation from coronavirus and will be able to do nothing to stop it.

They need all the help they can get.

“That is why I am backing CAFOD’s fundraising appeal, so that people already living on the brink get some of the care and support we would want our own families to receive.”

“Please give whatever you can and help CAFOD’s local experts deliver food, provide clean water and train community leaders to help save lives.”

Donate now

What is my lockdown legacy?

Five years ago, Pope Francis wrote Laudato Si’ – a profound invitation to everyone on the planet to care for the earth, our common home. To mark its anniversary, Pope Francis invites us all to participate in Laudato Si’ week from 16-24 May.

During Laudato Si’ week, we at CAFOD are asking you to think about your hope for the world – to reflect and think about the world beyond lockdown.

To get involved, we are asking you to share what you want your lockdown legacy to be on social media using #LockdownLegacy and tagging @CAFOD.

Lots of people have already got involved.

Mrs Henderson from Manchester said: “My hope for the world is that we may never take the small things for granted because really they were the big things; the things that nourished our souls.”

While Councillor Sam Corcoran, Leader of Cheshire East Council, shared a message on twitter about his lockdown legacy around the environment and Laudato Si.

Listen to Councillor Sam Corcoran’s full message

We are really looking forward to hearing about your #lockdownledgacy

Bishop John Arnold hosts virtual mass for Laudato Si’ week

To mark the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’, Bishop John Arnold of Salford is set to hold a special Mass and is inviting parishioners from across the country to join the online service.

Since churches were forced to close due to the lockdown, Priests across the country have leapt into action, organising online services so congregations can still celebrate together.

Bishop John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, has been no exception hosting regular masses live-streamed from Salford Cathedral with the latest being planned for Wednesday 20 May, 6-7 pm, to mark the five year anniversary of Pope Francis environmental letter, Laudato Si’.

The Laudato Si’ Week Eucharistic Celebration with Bishop John Arnold will take place on Wednesday, 20 May 6-7 pm, you can tune into watch here: https://www.churchservices.tv/salfordcathedral

 

Laudato Si’ week – take a look at the events planned

TOMORROW – Laudato Si’ – volunteer prayer & chat, Tuesday 19 May @ 11 am
Five years after the publication of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking encyclical Laudato Si’, let’s come together online in prayer and reflection on caring for our common home. This online meeting will include a Bible reading, chance to reflect and share and a time of prayer together. Don’t forget to have a candle to light if you can.

NB ticket orders will close 1 hour before the start of the session in order to allow time for us to send you the link.

Vigil Mass for Ascension Thursday with Bishop John Arnold, Wed 20 May @ 6pm

All are welcome to join together in solidarity and prayer to celebrate a special Vigil Mass for Ascension Thursday during Laudato Si’ week. It will be streamed live from Salford Cathedral. We look forward to having you join us on 20 May at 6pm.

Motivating talk: Neil Thorns (CAFOD’s Head of Advocacy)  Thursday 21 May @ 11am

Join us online for an inspirational talk from CAFOD’s Head of Advocacy and find about the amazing people he meets in his work and how Laudato Si’ has affected him.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Coronavirus in Latin America with Clare Dixon, Tue 26 May @ 11 am

Local volunteers in Zimbabwe & Nigeria responding quickly in emergencies:Thu 28 May @ 11am

Bookings for all of these via the website: 

COVID-19 and the impact on International Debt – join us online tomorrow (Thursday 14 May)

Coronavirus Appeal – cash distribution for basic essentials in Bangladesh by CAFOD partner, Caritas Bangladesh

We are currently living through the biggest public health crisis in a century. Right across the UK, coronavirus is having a devastating impact on all of our daily lives, and many people have lost precious loved ones.

But in many developing countries where poverty is widespread and healthcare systems are much more fragile, the effects are likely to be disastrous.

Join us on Thursday 14 May, 11 am-12 pm, for a talk about the impact that COVID-19 is having in developing countries and their International Debt.

CAFOD’s Lead Analyst, Dario Kenner, and Campaign Manager, Maria Elena Arana, will be speaking about how CAFOD advocacy program is responding to this financial crisis.

People wait to receive information re Covid-19 and food in Zimbabwe

And, how we at CAFOD are calling on the UK government to ensure that the most vulnerable people are the priority in the UK’s international efforts as well as at home.

Make sure to sign up now!

CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal

Last week, CAFOD launched an urgent appeal to respond to the unprecedented global challenge of tackling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.

We are already working alongside local aid experts who are providing food and improving hand-washing and sanitation facilities in communities and households.

And, with churches who are using their networks to share hygiene messages through Catholic radio stations, and producing posters in local dialects on infection prevention.

With the help of generous communities across the UK, we hope to scale up this support.

Donate to CAFOD’s coronavirus appeal now

CAFOD’s Director, Christine Allen, said: “The potential scale of the pandemic across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East – as well as among refugee and displaced populations in places such as Syria, South Sudan and the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh – is truly frightening.

“We have a narrow window of opportunity to reach communities with the basics for life – food and clean water, and the messages they need on how best to keep safe. Donations have never been more urgent, providing steadfast support to those who are in greatest need”.

 

Coronavirus Appeal – raising awareness and prevention in Afghanistan

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A tribute to a highly-valued volunteer – RIP Sue Philippart

Susan Philippart

I am finding it difficult to find the right words to describe Sue Philippart – a parish volunteer, education volunteer, campaigner, school teacher and friend in the diocese of Menevia in Wales.

Some of you may know already, that Sue died in the early hours of Wednesday 25 March, following a serious fall – the very same day as her Mum’s (Gerry) funeral at Our Lady, Star of the Sea church in Mumbles, Swansea.

The very last message I had from Sue was on 4 March to let me know that her  “lovely Mum passed away suddenly but peacefully in her sleep on Sunday 23 February, so life has been in turmoil ever since. I know you totally understand as you’ve been through the same yourself.”

Sue at a CAFOD briefing in Swansea with her granddaughter

She went on to say that she was at Mass the week before Lent Fast Day with her father and sisters and a fellow parishioner, Sarah O’Kane

“did my Lent appeal beautifully. Sarah is a beautiful soul.”

Fundraising at Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles

Sue gave me details of her Mum’s funeral in her parish, Our Lady, Star of the Sea in Mumbles on Tuesday 9 March and that two priests Fr Michael and Fr Mansel Usher (her former parish priest) were con-celebrating the Requiem Mass.

And her last message to me was: “Donations in lieu of flowers are to go to CAFOD.  Would you mind putting my beautiful Mum, Gerardine Mary McNeff, in the Book of Remembrance please.  Lots of love and hugs, Sue xxx”

Tragically, Sue had suffered a fractured skull in the fall and was put into an induced coma in hospital in Cardiff. She had emergency surgery and a request for prayers went out to family, friends, colleagues, pupils, parishioners to pray for Sue to make a full recovery.  Sue was also remembered at our Mass in Romero House.

Sadly it was a few weeks later that  Fr Mansel broke the awful news that Sue had died peacefully in the early hours of the morning. He had been with her and her family.

“May she rest in peace. Amen.”

 

We can only do the work we do at CAFOD because of wonderful volunteers like you.  And Sue really was a volunteer in a million.

Sue Philippart, Gemma Salter, Fr Mansel Usher and Sarah O’Kane

She was beautiful, intelligent, fun-loving, prayerful, reflective, caring, compassionate, supportive – a do-er who put her faith into practical action.

She oozed infectious enthusiasm with her winning smile and can-do attitude.

Mrs Philippart with some pupils after a CAFOD assembly

She was a gifted primary school teacher who will be sorely missed by her colleagues and pupils at St Joseph’s Cathedral School in Swansea where she raised awareness and inspired prayer and action for a more just world.

Share the journey walk from St Joseph’s school to St Joseph’s Cathedral – with Canon Benedict Koledoye (Dean)

She championed CAFOD’s core values: compassion, hope, dignity, solidarity, partnership, sustainability and stewardship with daily acts of kindness and expressions of solidarity and hope.

Sarah O’Kane, Fr Mansel Usher and Sue Philippart

Not only in fundraising activities, but Share the Journey walks in solidarity with refugees and migrants in the Year of Mercy and campaigning with her parish and school children to write powerful messages to the World Bank; her class drew their own sun power pictures to highlight the need for renewable energy for the world’s poorest people so that they can access vital services such as schools and health clinics.

Fairtrade campaign outside Sainsbury’s in Swansea

A talented teacher, Sue was part of the Swansea-Siavonga partnership and visited Zambia with the British Council’s Connecting Classrooms.

Sue with Sr Mary

It was a life-changing trip which also included a visit to a CAFOD project: the St Francis Intergrated Care programme in Zambia where she met Sr Mary Courtney – a religious sister of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa who was the programme co-ordinator. 

Sue was over the moon, and if it was possible to be more supportive of CAFOD, then she was.

Parishioners from OLSS with Geoff O’Donoghue and Fr Michael Apoghiran

CAFOD’s Operations Director, Geoff O’Donoghue, visited Our Lady, Star of the Sea parish and met with Sue and the wonderful group of committed and generous parishioners who support CAFOD’s work with prayer and fundraising. And he wrote to her after his trip to Mumbles to say:

“It was a great pleasure to meet Fr Michael, yourself and all the other supporters at Our Lady’s – it is very energizing to meet the levels of commitment and motivation that were so evident in your parish community and in the concern you have for others.”

Her fellow Education volunteer and good friend from OLSS, Sarah O’Kane sent us this:

“Sue was the CAFOD Parish Rep for Our Lady Star of the Sea in Mumbles and when I joined the Parish in October 2016 I asked if I could do anything to help her…well, as she used to say, the rest is history!

We became a good team, I was constantly inspired by her contagious enthusiasm for CAFOD  (due to which I also became, like Sue, a CAFOD School Volunteer.)

Sue cared deeply about justice, especially where children and education were concerned. She was always ready to go the extra mile, literally in fact, when Sue went to Zambia twice, on British Council exchange visits, she carved out time from an incredibly busy schedule to visit Sister Mary in a project supported by CAFOD. On her return home, Sue persuaded the Parish to earmark funds to continue to support Sister Mary’s Project.

We will all miss Sue’s huge smile, her warmth, her strong faith, her love of life and her wonderful enthusiasm.”

And a fellow Education volunteer in Menevia, Jane Stubbs, added:

I only knew Sue for a short time, but what an impression she made on me. I first met her on the train from Swansea to Cardiff for our CAFOD training. Sarah introduced me, and straight away it was like speaking to a long lost friend, her smile, warmth and enthusiasm for everything we talked about will always stay with me.  

It was a privilege to have known her.

And from Fr Mansel Usher:

During my time as parish priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea, Mumbles, Ms Sue Philippart, who has been a member of the parish all her life, became an invaluable supporter of a number of projects that were either already in existence or were new to the parish.

One of the projects already underway was the parish`s support for CAFOD. When I appealed for volunteers to help raise the profile of CAFOD`s activities both within the parish and within schools, Sue, along with Mrs Sarah O`Kane responded with tremendous enthusiasm.

The parish were already generous supporters of CAFOD but with the help of Sue and Sarah the level of support rose significantly. It was always a delight to work with Sue and Sarah. Any requests for help to promote events such as the Lenten Family Fast Appeals or the Harvest Appeals were always responded to with unconditional generosity.

Her “unconditional generosity” is something that I will sorely miss in our dear departed sister Sue. She is someone I knew I could totally depend upon, someone who would go out of her way to give everything to help support such a worthy cause which she totally believed in.

It is hard to believe Sue is no longer among us. In losing Sue I, like so many people, have lost a very dear friend, a beautiful person of deep, unwavering faith.”

Sue’s family have sent up a fundraising page in her memory with proceeds to CAFOD; she will live on in our work.  We are incredibly grateful to Sue’s father, Chris McNeff and to all her family for thinking of CAFOD at this awfully difficult time. She would be so proud of you all.

St Joseph’s Cathedral School, where Sue taught for many years, has produced a wonderful montage which we share here.

We will forever miss your radiant smile, your unfailing enthusiasm and your warm and loving friendship. Thank you Sue, from us all at CAFOD.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.

But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor 13)

Sue gave all of these in abundance. May she rest in eternal peace.

 

 

 

 

Stop Climate Chaos Cymru Coalition meets Assembly Members

Stop Climate Chaos Cymru (SCCC) is a coalition of influential organisations based in Wales who work together to mobilise our supporters and others across Wales to bring about changes to help tackle the climate crisis. 

The organisations include: CAFOD, Centre for Alternative Technology, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam Cymru, RSPB, Size of Wales, Tearfund, Wales Wildlife Trust, Women’s Institute and the Welsh Centre for International Affairs. 

A decade to turn things around
The world is hitting record-breaking temperatures and the poorest communities are being affected the most. The devastating decline in biodiversity is set to wipe out a million species. Our oceans are choking in plastic and our children are breathing toxic air. The science is clear, and Wales is feeling the impact.

This is not a future problem: the time is now.

SCCC met with Assembly Members on Wednesday 26 February 2020 at Ty Hywel, Senedd to ask that the political response in Wales needs to be stronger and faster.

Recent research named Cardiff as one of the world’s most at risk cities globally from global warming.   And Wales’ consumption of natural resources if far beyond what its population size can justify: Wales exceeds safe limits for the consumption of carbon dioxide by 455%.

The latest IPCC report makes it clear that rapid, transformational action in the next decade is crucial. Wales’ recent declaration of a climate emergency must be matched with an appropriate response.

This year the 2015 Paris Agreement comes into force and the UK prepares to host COP26 in Glasgow in November, the biggest conference since the Paris Agreement; and Welsh Government comes to the end of its first carbon budgeting period (2016-20) under the Environment Act 2016 and will be developing its low carbon plan for 2021-25.

What are we asking of Wales?

  • that it acts in its domestic policy to do its fair share in the global picture to achieve equitable and rapid emissions reductions, both domestic and consumption
  • acts to ensure that wellbeing, sustainability and principles of global equity are at the forefront of its international policy.

Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, attended the conference and spoke about the importance of urgent climate action and how Wales can make real progress in 2020.

The AMS were lobbied to do everything in their power to maximise action for our climate, nature and people, in Wales and globally.

The following were suggested next steps:

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Oppportunity to LISTEN LIVE on 5th February – to Davi Kopenawa, recent winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize! From 11.30-12.30

Listen live: Wednesday 5 February,

11.30am to 12.30pm: Davi Kopenawa

We’re delighted to offer you the chance to listen live to a talk by Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami indigenous leader who works for an organisation that CAFOD supports in Brazil.

He will be talking about their work protecting forests and the culture of indigenous peoples.

He recently won the Right Livelihood Award, known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’. Click here to listen live