Share the Journey and follow Pope Francis’ call to support refugees

Jenny Seymour is a schools volunteer for CAFOD Hallam and delivers workshops and assemblies to primary school children across the diocese


Pope Francis asks us all to share the journey

I was really excited when I read the headlines last week: “Pope Francis launches new CARITAS migration campaign.”  Doesn’t sound intriguing or particularly exciting as a headline, but for me it means that the work I am doing within primary schools in my diocese is so current and consistent with the Catholic social teaching and global social justice. It means that the children who take part in our refugee pilgrimage and “share the journey” with refugees will feel as though they’re taking part in something much bigger.  Hopefully, by hearing their parents and grandparents recognising this journey (after seeing Pope Francis’ empassioned plea) and the importance of walking alongside these poor people who have found the need to embark upon potentially treacherous journeys for a better and safer way of life, they will learn compassion towards them as well.

Share Journey

The schools team at CAFOD have been delivering the refugee pilgrimage, based upon the story of the boat that sunk off the coast of Lampedusa, for over a year now.    As soon as the children complete their journey, we ask them to write a message of hope that are then either passed onto refugees or are offered up in a mass for refugees.

These messages have been absolutely inspiring for me and I hope that by following Pope Francis’ call to share the journey many adults will also feel as inspired to help those of God’s people less fortunate than ourselves to find a safe place to live and work.  After all, this world is our common home and each and every one of us should have the same rights to share in it and live life to the fullest.

If you work in a school and want your pupils to take part in our pilgrimage, please contact your schools volunteer or Jeremy at the CAFOD Hallam office (see details at the bottom of this blog).




Share the Journey of Refugees – childrens’ messages of hope are an inspiration!

Jenny Seymour one of CAFOD Hallam’s school volunteers recently took the children of St Thomas of Canterbury on a journey of solidarity with refugees and their messages of hope were truly inspirational

CAFOD Message of Hope for Refugees

I was lying on my bed the other night watching the fabulous new documentary series by Reggie Yates – the Insider.  This week was a particularly moving documentary about life inside the largest refugee camp in Iraq, just across the Syrian border.   Reggie Yates visits the Middle East to spend a week living and sleeping in the largest refugee camp in Iraq alongside 30,000 Syrian refugees. Since the war in Syria first began, nearly 11 million people have fled their homes in search of safety.   The news has been dominated by those trying to cross into Europe, but some five million people ended up in refugee camps and, for some, this has become a new way of life (there was one poignant moment when one of the refugees takes Reggie up on a hill where they can see their beloved Syria and the poor girl couldn’t look as it made her too sad – longing for her old home back).  For others, they continue their perilous journey to Europe.  

Whilst watching it, it made me realise how the work we do within schools for CAFOD is so important.  The schools team for CAFOD have written a beautiful and thought-provoking workshop which takes children on a pilgrimage considering some of the issues that refugees have to face and the reasons that refugees start on their potentially perilous journey.  The pilgrimage is inspired by the events that took place on the small Mediterranean island of Lampedusa in October 2013, but raises some current issues.


Hope is all you need! World Peace.

At the end of this journey of solidarity, the children are asked to write their messages of hope for refugees around the world today.  Originally, these messages were offered up at a mass for refugees at the end of the Year of Mercy, but messages written this year are being hand delivered to refugees within the UK.  The results are truly inspirational and it is heart-warming to see that these children truly empathise with the refugees on their journey.

Schools and parishes are still able to take part in the Lampedusa pilgrimages led by your school or parish volunteer. Please contact your schools volunteer or the CAFOD Hallam Office to book your visit.


You are Loved – inspirational messages of hope for refugees


Back to School Blues, but is our School Run really that stressful?

Jenny Seymour is a mum of 3 primary school children and a Schools Volunteer for CAFOD Hallam 

What a morning!  I can say that now with a smile on my face, as I’m sat here in the CAFOD office with a nice cup of coffee and sat in front of my computer.  However, a couple of hours ago I wasn’t quite so calm….


It started off amazingly well (apart from my eldest who thinks he may be coming down with tonsilitis again!?!): all 3 children got up at the right time and the eldest two got themselves ready.   However, my 3 year old was nervous about starting back to pre-school, so the socks were wrong, the polo shirt didn’t feel right and she couldn’t decide what to have for breakfast.  We all sat down to a nice healthy meal of cereal, yoghurt and fruit – wonderful you say?  It was for 3 minutes!  Then, my youngest got a rubbery sticky toy stuck in her hair (at least I could get to brush it at the same time as disentangling her beautiful blond locks!) and exploded a yoghurt all over her nice clean uniform just as we were about to leave the house.  It was a mad dash away from making and packing the packed lunches, up to the room to locate new clean uniform, try to get her re-dressed and persuade her that the seam really isn’t too rough and the label could be cut out!?!  and at last we were ready to go……We actually (amazingly) still made it to school and pre-school on time – they all had a nice kiss from their mummy and all 3 seemed to walk in with smiles on their faces – no lasting harm done and I took a few deep breaths!!!

butter wouldn't melt!!

Butter wouldn’t melt!

It’s only  when I sat in the CAFOD office that I took stock and realised how lucky we are – at least my children all have a place in a local school, in our local community.  Taking children, particularly girls, out of school in order to work is one way poor families in some countries in the Global South try to cope with financial hardship. Even if there are no school fees, many struggle to afford the necessary pencils, paper, shoes and clothes.  This may help make ends meet in the short term, but the cost is huge in the long term. Even when working children manage to attend school, they will certainly attend less regularly and do less well than their peers.

In rich countries, people have an average of ten years of schooling; in developing countries the average is four. Poor transport and long distances to school make it even more difficult to attend.

butter wouldn't melt...

Back to School for my two big helpers at home!

Without the chance of a full education, children do not get the qualifications they need for decent jobs, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty into the next generation and beyond.  Buying a CAFOD World Gift of education may go some well to help.

I feel extremely privileged, as a CAFOD Schools Volunteer, to be able to go into schools in my diocese and educate children about issues that are faced by their peers in the Global South.  If just one child grows up to appreciate the difficulties that others face and to understand that we should all strive for a more just world for everyone as a result of our workshops and assemblies, then it makes small every day stresses we have more bearable.


CAFOD Hallam schools volunteers

Perhaps you could become a CAFOD schools volunteer.  Just get in touch with your diocese CAFOD office.  Here at CAFOD Hallam please contact