Becoming a schools volunteer – Barnet volunteer Jack Ellinas shares his experience

Jack Ellinas, a supporter from Barnet who is in the process of becoming a schools volunteer, shares his experience of becoming a CAFOD schools volunteer.

“I originally got involved with CAFOD as an office volunteer, but when I was asked if I’d like to speak about CAFOD in schools I leapt at the chance.

Of the hundreds of assemblies, talks and presentations I sat through in school (more often than not under some duress), the few that really stood out were visits from CAFOD speakers. I was struck, not only by their shocking statistics and inspiring stories, but also by the real and obvious enthusiasm the speakers invariably had for their cause.

It was that enthusiasm that stayed with me and, years later, drew me to volunteer with CAFOD. It was that that made me want to represent CAFOD in schools, in the hope that I might share even a fraction of that enthusiasm with a new generation of young people.

CAFOD Volunteers Nathan Nye (far left) and Maureen Mogg (far right) visit St Martha’s school in Barnet.

The first step in my journey towards this goal was to attend a schools volunteer training day at CAFOD HQ in Lambeth. For me it was just a short trip on the tube but others had come from all over the country to be there – such is the dedication of CAFOD’s volunteers!

As a fresh-faced young graduate with very little experience of working in schools, public speaking or life in general, I was at first a little intimidated to find that my course-mates all had extensive backgrounds in teaching. However, as the day went on and we were guided through the essentials of being a CAFOD schools volunteer, their wealth of experience really helped to quell any worries I might have had.

Having learnt the basics and made my first impromptu presentation (albeit in front of a very friendly audience – my fellow course-mates), the next step was to see a CAFOD speaker in action. The lovely people at the CAFOD Westminster office arranged for me to shadow two talks, one in a primary school and one at a local secondary. In both cases I was once again struck by the energy and belief the speakers managed to convey, all the more so now that I knew exactly what goes into a CAFOD talk.

After one more day of training to round off the course, and having been provided with all the materials I may need, I now eagerly await my first chance to spread the word about CAFOD to a new generation. Let’s just hope I manage to be as engaging as the CAFOD speakers that first inspired me!”

If you think you might be interested in becoming a schools volunteer but would like to find out more, come along to Understanding CAFOD Day. There you will learn all you need to know about CAFOD’s work and becoming a volunteer. The workshop will run between 9.30am and 4pm  on Saturday 26 January at Amigo Hall (next to St. George’s Cathedral), 55 Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 6HU.

 If you would like to book a place at Understanding CAFOD Day or arrange for a CAFOD volunteer to visit your school or confirmation group, get in touch with the CAFOD Westminster office. You can contact us by phone on 0208 449 6970 or by email at westminster@cafod.org.uk.

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