Emily McIndoe is pondering the question of whether her generation is more politically engaged than previous ones. ‘I see it a lot,’ she replies, ‘though I don’t see it as much as I’d like to see it.’
That she would wish to see more engagement is hardly a surprise given the 22-year-old’s own activities and interests. An MA student of 20th century history at the University of Liverpool, she has been a volunteer co-ordinator for Cafod since April last year, liaising with volunteers in parishes and the universities – and is currently busy promoting the charity’s ‘Share the Journey: Walk around the world’ campaign.
'Share the Journey was launched by Pope Francis in September,’ she explains, ‘and it’s about standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are on the move – refugees, migrants, people who make difficult journeys.
‘We’re asking people to join us in a walk around the world. We’re aiming to walk 24,900 miles which is the distance around the world – we want people to organise walks and logs their miles. We’re not asking for money.
‘There’s a week of action which is 16-24 June and that’s when we’d like people to get involved. Across Liverpool we’re focusing on a Walk to Church Sunday that week – when parishioners ditch the car, walk to church and tell a volunteer at the back of church, “I walked to church today and this is how far I walked”.’
In tandem with the ‘Walk around the world’ campaign, Cafod is also asking people to sign a petition on its website urging Prime Minister Theresa May to play a leading role in the forthcoming global compacts on migration and refugees.
‘There are two UN resolutions coming up – one in September, one in December – and they’ll look at migrants and refugees respectively and will determine how the UN directs countries’ attitudes towards refugees, so they’re really important,’ adds Emily, originally from St Peter’s parish in Lytham St Anne’s.
Her wish to play her part does not end with her Cafod work. She is also a constituency campaigner for Oxfam (‘you write to your MP about issues’) and is involved with the Music For Hope charity, which provides music lessons to youngsters in rural areas of El Salvador. ‘It’s to try to keep them out of trouble because there’s a lot of gang violence in El Salvador,’ says Emily, whose MA supervisor at Liverpool University, Dr Andrew Redden, is a trustee of the charity.
‘International aid in El Salvador’ is the subject of the PhD she hopes to embark on next autumn, having gained funding from the Economic Social Research Council. First things first, though: the not-so-small matter of completing her MA, not to forget her efforts for Cafod.
‘We’ve strengthened the links with the university’s CathSoc and Father Neil Ritchie, who’s been fantastic,’ she says. ‘It’s focusing not necessarily on fundraising but more on social action and getting people involved, I’ve really enjoyed it.’
And the perfect opportunity for involvement is ‘Walk for the World’, already highlighted in her calendar for June. ‘It’s a show of solidarity – like a step of defiance,’ she stresses. ‘We’ll stand by our brothers and sisters. What Cafod is asking Theresa May is to stand up at the very least for the human dignity of these vulnerable people who are on the move.’
For more information, visit: www.cafod.org.uk