Meet the volunteer - Joe
Joe is a retired university lecturer from Stoke-on-Trent. He first got involved with CAFOD in his parish before becoming a media volunteer, and has fond memories of faxing out his press releases for CAFOD’s millennium events!
How long have you been involved with CAFOD?
I first became involved in the spring of 1996 when I set up a CAFOD group in my parish. In 1999 I helped organise one of CAFOD’s big millennium events, and I wrote and circulated press releases about the event – by fax! I enjoyed that, so I carried on as a media volunteer for the next 20 years until my retirement this year.
I’ve sent press releases about every Fast Day, almost every emergency appeal that CAFOD has launched, and plenty of other campaigns and events. I did between 40 and 50 radio interviews for CAFOD, almost all of them on BBC Stoke. I wrote a CAFOD column in our diocesan paper for much of that time, Catholic Today. And I also spoke at masses around my deanery and beyond, and worked as a schools volunteer.
What first attracted you to CAFOD?
I’d had a long interest in international aid and poverty, and I always felt that ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’ was the most important Christian message. Volunteering for CAFOD enabled me to respond to both.
What’s been the best thing about volunteering for CAFOD for so long?
I always felt that what I was doing was having an impact. Much of my role was about telling stories – of what it was like for people to live in poverty, and how CAFOD was able to help so many, thanks to the generosity of people. I told stories by getting articles into the papers, talking on the radio, and by telling churches full of parishioners or assemblies full of children. I always felt that people were listening, and that in my own small way, I was making a difference to the lives of people in poverty. It was very fulfilling.
Secondly, the working relationships I had with CAFOD staff and other volunteers were some of the best of my life. I valued the solidarity greatly, and doing the work with others was so enjoyable. CAFOD has a remarkable way of encouraging volunteers to be involved whilst never making demands. In 20 years I was never once nagged to do anything! But I was always given lots of options and opportunities. I always appreciated how CAFOD staff welcome volunteers and value them as important. That’s wonderful to experience as a volunteer.
What are some of your best memories?
In the early years a team of key volunteers organised Advent services around the diocese each year. They were great and it was wonderful to be part of that team.
Some of the most memorable times have been coming together at the big demonstrations – the human chain in Birmingham for Jubilee 2000 in 1998 was my first. I went to Genoa for the G8 Summit in 2001, and Edinburgh for Make Poverty History in 2005, and several in London over the years. They were always great occasions to be part of.