Sophie, who is originally from Manchester, has previously volunteered at CAFOD Salford, and we’re so happy to see her now embarking on the next stage of her journey as a Step into the Gap volunteer. Welcome, Sophie!
I’m Sophie Aulton, I am 22 and originally from Manchester. I will soon be starting my year at Leeds Trinity University as part of CAFODs Step into the Gap programme. I have spent the last year at Leeds University studying for my Masters in Global Development, before which I was at Keele University doing Philosophy and International Relations.
I had done a bit of volunteering for CAFOD in my free time at Salford and Leeds, which inspired me to apply for Step into the Gap, and become more involved in what CAFOD does.
By doing my placement at Leeds Trinity University, I hope to work with students on issues of social injustice, and help raise awareness of CAFODs work all over the world. I aim to show how much simple acts of giving, contacting your MP, or empowering people can have such a positive effect on people globally.
Find out more about the new Step into the Gap recruits
In this blog we hear from Sophie, one of Salford’s wonderful gappers, as she comes to the end of her year-long placement with CAFOD.
Talking at my local parish St.John Vianney in Blackpool.
“This year has been such an enjoyable and unforgettable year by far.
Volunteering for CAFOD has given me such wide perspective on life. I have developed my leadership skills and self confidence by campaigning for CAFOD and sharing the stories of the people I encountered overseas in Ethiopia. Being able to go overseas and see the work that CAFOD do has just been my highlight of the year and it has been a privilege to be able to tell people, especially CAFOD supporters, about it, letting them know that what they are doing is really making a positive difference to our brothers and sisters across the world.
I have become so close with the other gappers over the year, making strong relationships and unforgettable memories that I will treasure forever. This year has truly enriched me and guided me to what vocation I want to do in life. I am now off to Lancaster University to study Social Work.
Even though the Step into the Gap programme for this year is coming to an end, I will still continue to be a CAFOD Supporter, putting my faith into action for social justice.
I would like to thank CAFOD Salford for making me feel truly welcome and for all their dedication and hard work. I would also like to give a huge thank you to all the schools I have met through talking about my overseas visit.
I wish everyone reading this a lovely summer and may God bless you on your journey.”
Inspired by Sophie’s experiences? Find out more about the Step into the Gap programme.
SALFORD STEP INTO THE GAP: SCHOOLS, OFFICE-LIFE & INTERNATIONAL TRIPS.
This blog post has been written in the style of a conversation between CAFOD Step into the Gap volunteers Joanna and Fiona. In order to understand who is speaking, the initial of the person has been put before each line.
[Joanna (left) and Fiona (right) attending the Bonfire Night festivities at Heaton Park.]
J: Hello, welcome back to the CAFOD Step into the Gap blog.
F: Hello! It’s Fiona here, back for another ramble about my life as a CAFOD gap year volunteer.
J: So Fiona, what have we been up to in the past 2 months?
F: Where do we start? So much has happened!
J: Well, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. (name that song)
F: ♫ THE SOUND OF MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSIC. ♫
J: That took way too long. Anyway, back to the blog. So in the last term we’ve really been settling into our placement at Just Youth: going into lots of schools for retreats, visiting our own chaplaincy schools, having schools come into our retreat centre, and also working with young people in our youth club.
F: Yeah, it hasn’t even been 3 months yet, but it feels like we’ve been working at Just Youth and living in community for so much longer. That said, it’s been a hectic first half-term, but I think we’ve somehow managed to keep on top of everything!
J: Not to mention the amount of cutting out of shapes and sorting through files we’ve had to do too! Like the time we emptied out every cupboard and drawer in the office so we could reorganise.
F: Yeah, that was… interesting. Ahem.
J: It’s been really nice to have the support from the Salford CAFOD team which we visit once a fortnight too.
F: Yeah, I think our placement gives us some really unique opportunities. Not only do we get to work with lots of really lovely young people, we get the privilege of working with refugees and asylum seekers through the charity ‘Revive’ too.
J: In this term we also found out some very exciting news – where will we be going on our international trip?
F: Yes! It’s only been a few weeks since we found out, but the excitement is building up already. Right, we won’t leave you in suspense any longer. We’re both going to different parts of the world, I’m going to be going to Peru-
J: -and I’m going to Zimbabwe! We’ll be going in mid-January for about 3 weeks, and to prepare for this, we’ll be going down to London in November to meet up with the 6 other CAFOD Gappers around the country for our international training.
F: Yes, and we have lots to research and prepare for the trip. It’s going to be an amazing experience for the both of us! Neither of us have actually visited these parts of the world before. As I’ll be going to Peru–a Spanish speaking country–I’ll probably have to learn some Spanish. I think the best I can do is GCSE-level French! Don’t know if it’s the same for you, Joanna…?
J: For me, it’s sort of a case of going in blind right now. I haven’t had much, if any experience with Zimbabwe, except for what I have heard on the news or in passing. However, I am going to go into my trip with a completely open mind, expecting anything and everything to be thrown my way.
F: Exactly! I think going into the trip with an open mind will really help us make the most out of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m so looking forward to meeting all the communities that CAFOD is working in partnership with!
J: To say that I don’t have any anxieties about the trip would be lying, however they are only small, and the first hurdle is going to be coming very soon – VACCINATIONS! Eek, I am not a fan of injections.
F: Can’t blame you there!
J: Well, I think that pretty much lets you in on what’s happened in the first 2 months of our gap year with CAFOD and what we have to look forward to in the next month or so too. Very exciting things happening and I’m so grateful of the opportunity I’ve been given.
Find out more about a Gap Year with CAFOD
CAFOD in Zimbabwe
CAFOD in Peru