CAFOD has joined a number of organisations and charities from the Diocese of Leeds in coming together during this period of lockdown to help the local project SPARK to provide a series of online videos encouraging young people to become active in social justice causes.
In 2019, the Diocese's Justice and Peace Commission, a group which has been active in the area for over 45 years, launched a project called SPARK. SPARK is an 'Arts in Faith' project for young people aged 16-30, rooted in drama and theatre. Aoibheann Kelly, a theatre professional and the project director, uses drama to provide a space to have challenging conversations and explore ways in which young people can make a difference.
When SPARK began, it identified poverty and climate change as key issues that it would explore. These are principle focuses of CAFOD's work to ensure that every man, woman and child has a full and dignified life.
SPARK is an 'Arts in Faith' project for young people aged 16-30, rooted in drama and theatre. Aoibheann Kelly, a theatre professional and the project director, uses drama to provide a space to have challenging conversations and explore ways in which young people can make a difference.
Under normal circumstances, SPARK delivers interactive workshops in schools, parishes and colleges and the group have been particularly active in Leeds Trinity University. However, the group has had to adapt to the new world that the Covid-19 Lockdown presents. Although the group only started to run sessions in September 2019, it has already delivered them to almost 300 young people across the Diocese.
Over the past few weeks, Aoibheann has been working hard to organise a set of video episodes so that the momentum for action that the sessions have been creating is not lost.
In the first of these online episodes, Marc Besford the National President of YCW (Young Christian Workers), and the National Secretary of YCW, Ben Sinclair, joined Aoibheann. In this episode, the group explored youth leadership and examples of inspirational young people who have taken positive action to help others.
The second episode, led by Tom Chigbo from Leeds Citizens, will look at how young people can set up their own social justice action group both during lockdown and beyond.
For the third episode, Sarah Barber, CAFOD's Youth Programme Team Leader, and Bronagh Daly, CAFOD's Community Participation Co-ordinator for Leeds will be joining Aoibheann. They will discuss volunteering opportunities and ways of making a difference during the lockdown period to ensure, as Bronagh said: "no one is beyond reach.".
The following episode will feature John Battle, former MP for Leeds West and a community activist, who will be talking about his passion for social justice.
When SPARK was initially formed, it recognised CAFOD's success at working with and engaging young people under 30 in its volunteering programmes and campaigns. Within Catholic schools, CAFOD is a well-known and active charity. With school Lenten appeals, the 'Step into the Gap' programme and office, parish and school volunteering opportunities, CAFOD provides a range of ways for young people to get involved.
During this time of social distancing, many young people will have found they have more time to consider how to put both their faith and their passion for social justice into action. SPARK's video episodes provide a space to ask important questions and opportunities to answer them.
The group's motto is a South African saying which reads: "Many little people, in many little places, who do many little things, can change the face of the earth". SPARK's online sessions show that although we may be separated, the call for a fairer, safer world is still sounding and it brings us together.
SPARK's first session is available now on YouTube. See: www.youtube.com/watch?v=lZ6YmtRj97k&feature=youtu.be
To keep updated on when new episodes are posted follow SPARK on Facebook at @SPARKsocialjustice or visit their website: www.leedsjp.org.uk/tag/spark-social-justice/
CAFOD's volunteering opportunities for young people: https://cafod.org.uk/Volunteer/Volunteering-for-young-people
Diocese of Leeds Justice and Peace Commission: www.leedsjp.org.uk
Young Christian Workers: www.ycwimpact.com
Leeds Citizens: www.citizensuk.org/leeds
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