Volunteers from every year of CAFOD's gap year programme came together at the charity's headquarters in London to celebrate ten years of the scheme last Tuesday.
The Step into the Gap programme, which first began in 2009, involves young volunteers living and working in a UK community for a year and visiting a CAFOD project overseas, where they witness first-hand the impact donations from CAFOD supporters have on communities living in poverty.
The celebration saw gap year volunteers - past and present - come together and celebrate their achievements, which included giving nearly 100,000 hours to help communities both here in the UK and overseas, and share their experiences of the programme.
Caroline Collins, a current gap year volunteer who is based at Newman University and travelled to Israel and occupied Palestinian territory earlier this year, said: "In my gap year I travelled to meet with communities that CAFOD work with - this has been a unique experience for me because we were working in a country where many people experience a poverty of rights - and I've been able to learn about the work that CAFOD does in this niche situation.
"I hope to go back to Birmingham and visit schools and parishes to shed some light on the complexities of this situation."
For the last decade, Step into the Gap volunteers have lived in placements around the country - in university chaplaincies and youth ministry teams - teaching people about the work of CAFOD.
More than 70 young people have now taken part in the programme, which helped them to learn new skills and develop leadership roles which have led them to careers in teaching, politics and in charities.
Leadership Development Coordinator, Julia Corcoran, said: "Step into the Gap is a great programme. It allows young adults to become leaders in their local communities. Over the last 10 years we have had 74 young adults who have taken part.
"Whilst on the programme, they've gained experience and developed skills that have helped them with the careers they have gone on to.
"They've visited CAFOD partners and come back to the UK inspired to share the work of CAFOD and inspired a generation to work for a more just world."
Applications are still open to apply for this year's programme, and CAFOD are encouraging young people who are looking for a new challenge and seeking to develop their faith to apply.
Find out more at: cafod.org.uk/gapyear
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