Bryony Sharpe and Rebecca Hardwick from All Saints Catholic High School, Sheffield who have participated in CAFOD’s Young Volunteer Programme for Y12 students in our diocese, went down to London to represent the Hallam Diocese on Tuesday and Wednesday, 25th and 26th March.  They were accompanied by Bernie Healy, who is Chaplain at the school.  There they met up with 30 other sixth form students from various dioceses across England and Wales.

The day began with activities at CAFOD’s Romero House, to help participants to get to know each other, and to prepare for the following day’s visit to Parliament.  The group was taught how to use media to their advantage, about the dynamics of Parliament, and also what CAFOD had been doing through their ‘Hungry For Change’ campaign and what they were planning to do in their new campaign about climate change.

On the second day the group travelled to Parliament where they met with Mr Speaker, John Bercow.  They were given the opportunity to ask him questions about his job, being impartial and his opinion regarding CAFOD and their work.  This was followed by a short tour of the Houses of Parliament, to watch Question Time with the Prime Minister, and to meet Tom Clarke MP, Lord Don Touhig and Mark Durkan MP and ask them questions related to CAFOD and climate change.

All Saints in Parliament s

Rebecca and Bryony are pictured with Paul Blomfield MP during their visit to the Houses of Parliament

Rebecca Hardwick explained that, “Prior to the event we were asked to contact our own MPs and invite them down to Parliament to meet with them and talk to them about any issues we found to be important.  The MP for my constituency is Paul Blomfield, who was able to travel down and meet with us.  We spoke to Paul Blomfield about what could be done at home and in Parliament to prevent climate change, what could be done to help small-scale farmers who were being exploited by larger companies and his views on the work of CAFOD.  Although the meeting was short, we learnt about what he thought could be done and his opinions on large issues regarding climate change.

“Overall, this opportunity has given me personally a better insight into what can be done to try and prevent climate change, especially when less developed countries suffer from the consequences far worse than we do.  I have a raised awareness now about a variety of aspects from the trip, eg about Parliament and politics, about CAFOD’s work, and I have also a better knowledge on how to make others aware of the seriousness of climate change too.”