Seeking volunteers to spread the word of CAFOD's work

In profile: Justine Silcock

CAFOD might be best known for its charitable efforts abroad but, as Justine Silcock will vouch, the Catholic aid agency has plenty going on at home too.

In Justine's case, she is one of ten education volunteers working in Liverpool to spread the word about CAFOD's endeavours – delivering primary and secondary-school assemblies and workshops on topics such as climate change, the refugee crisis, and water and sanitation shortages elsewhere in the world.

It is a role she embarked on in 2012, and one she relishes for the opportunity to raise awareness and understanding about poverty and injustice. "The children and young people give me such encouragement with their understanding and desire to find out more about the concerns of others living in less privileged parts of the world, and how we all, through CAFOD, can help them," she says.

A former teacher at Wigan and Leigh College, Justine has also taken on the task, over the past year, of coordinating and supporting the charity's new education volunteers in Liverpool Archdiocese. "This has been a great opportunity to share the experiences of the work with others and also to help to support the development of the CAFOD Liverpool Volunteer Centre [situated at 27 Crofton Road, Old Swan, Liverpool L13 5UJ] into an open and resourceful place for volunteers to visit," she says.

With CAFOD keen to attract new volunteers, Justine explains that the structure is in place to help ease people into the role. "Although education volunteering may be thought to appeal mostly to those with a teaching background, in fact anyone with a desire to, and interest in, spreading the word on overseas development to children, young people and their teachers and families, would be a welcome member of the team," she says. "CAFOD provides excellent training and resources to use for assemblies and workshops."

Justine's involvement with CAFOD stretches some way back. She has been a committed and active volunteer in the parish of Margaret Clitherow in her local community of Holy Family, Boothstown for many years. One notable venture there is the Community Fairtrade Café, organised during Lent with a special focus on CAFOD's concerns. This year each weekly café session was sponsored by a different parishioner.

Justine's work also involves helping to tutor parish volunteers on the 'Understanding CAFOD' training course, which is something parishes are increasingly requesting. Additionally, she is an active campaigner for CAFOD's concerns and was a recent visitor to the Houses of Parliament to lobby Catholic MPs on climate change issues. On top of this, she is an active member of the Archdiocesan Justice and Peace Commission, co-chairing its meetings with Terry Phillips and assisting the commission's fieldworker Steve Atherton throughout the year. 

It is no surprise, given her involvement with the activities of CAFOD and the Church, that she is eager for others to follow suit. "If anyone reading the article, or anyone they know, would like to be part of our expanding team of volunteers, they should know we are recruiting now," she adds, issuing a call well worth considering. 

• CAFOD's next training days are on Tuesday 27 September and Tuesday 15 November, with a shadow visit in between. To find out more details, go to www.cafod.org.uk or contact Colette Byrne or Ged Edwards at the Liverpool Volunteer Centre – tel. 0151 228 4028 or email liverpool@cafod.org.uk