A decade of running raises thousands for CAFOD

A CAFOD volunteer and parishioner from Fulham is soon to take part in his tenth Great South Run in aid of CAFOD.  Kevin Lawler will be running the ten-mile course on the 22nd October and we’ll all be cheering him on from Westminster diocese!

Kevin has been running the Great South Run ever since he first became involved with CAFOD eleven years ago: following that first run, it has become part of Kevin’s “yearly cycle”.

Kevin, a parishioner at St. Thomas of Canterbury, is modest about his achievements: “I am fortunate despite my 62 years to be blessed with good health and fitness and I simply cannot think of a better way of putting my faith into practice than through supporting the outstanding work of CAFOD.”

“The simple fact is that by doing it, it will make a difference to someone’s life.  When I’m struggling on a run, I often think ‘aren’t I lucky to be out here doing this.’”

The Portsmouth coastline is one which Kevin is fond of and combined with the atmosphere of the Great South Run, race day is always a great one: “You do get a buzz when you’ve got over 20,000 others participating.  It really is a splendid occasion.”


Kevin has raised an average of £1,000 each year, meaning that if people give equally generously this year, he will have raised around £10,000 for CAFOD since 2006.  As such, he is hoping to engage the whole community to support people living in poverty overseas.

Kevin said: “I hope people will give additional energy and speed to my 10-mile journey through Portsmouth by their support and sponsorship.  I’m very grateful in appreciation and anticipation of people’s kind and generous response!”

Anybody who would like to sponsor Kevin can visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kevin-lawler3

This can be done either before or after the race. Thank you.

Good luck Kevin and thanks for all your many years of support for CAFOD!

Help halt the unjust eviction of families in Brazil #ficamaua

CAFOD supporters in Westminster diocese have recently been responding to the #ficamaua campaign, which is hoping to stop the eviction of more than 200 families living in an abandoned hotel in the centre of Sao Paulo, Brazil. 

Add your name to the petition to stop the eviction

Not only have CAFOD supporters in Westminster diocese been busy preparing for Harvest, but they have also been getting involved with CAFOD’s latest campaign.

Once a trendy hotel, the Maua Building in the centre of Sao Paulo stood empty for 17 years until 2007, when 237 working families moved in.  They lovingly renovated the building and for the last ten years have called it home.  Whereas once the building was squalid, it is now home to a thriving community, providing a social use and revitalising an otherwise derelict area in the city centre.

Maua building Sao Paulo

The Maua Building, Sao Paulo

Tony Sheen from the CAFOD Wesminster office visited the community in the Maua building a few years ago.

“What I witnessed when I visited was a loving community of young and old caring for each other, living together and sharing what they had.  There were community leaders on each floor who ensured that all had enough to eat and they shared with those who didn’t have enough.  It was very well established, with a creche, a library and youth clubs.”

Ever since they moved in the families have been trying to win the legal rights to their home, asking for the authorities to acquire the building and convert it into social housing for low income families.

Far from being a radical claim, this is a move permitted under Brazilian law, which states that all properties must fulfil a social purpose.  As such, city planning should be organised to ensure cities respond to social needs, not only financial interests.  This is especially pertinent in Sao Paulo; poor families are unable to afford market rents, yet in the city centre there are hundreds of abandoned buildings.

Despite what is stated in law, the families in the building face eviction on the 22 October.  Should the eviction go ahead, almost 1,000 people, including 200 children, would be forced onto the street.  All legal routes have been exhausted and so far local authorities have provided no contingency plan.

Add your name to the petition to stop the eviction

Clare Dixon with CAFOD Westminster Volunteers

Clare Dixon with CAFOD Westminster Volunteers

Heluiza Soares, a coordinator from CAFOD’s São Paulo partner APOIO, said:“We cannot stay silent when faced with such injustice, indifference to the plight of the poor, and backlash in Brazil. Housing is a right which must be guaranteed and we must stand firmly together to ensure social justice and the equitable enjoyment of the city, especially by the most vulnerable and disfavoured citizens. Having a decent home is essential to people’s dignity, safety, livelihoods and ability to thrive.”

CAFOD supporters in Westminster have begun to respond to this request, signing the petition that has been launched to try and halt the eviction.  The petition asks that the Brazilian authorities suspend the eviction and negotiate a fair, long-term solution for the families living in the Maua.

Once you’ve signed the petition, we’re also asking you to show solidarity with the community by taking a picture of yourself holding a sign saying #ficamaua to share on Twitter or Facebook tagging @CAFOD.

All of us in the Westminster office ask for all our supporters to sign the petition against this unjust eviction and pray that justice will prevail.

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Strawberries and Cream for CAFOD

A huge thank you to the CAFOD Group at Holy Family church in Welwyn Garden City, which has raised over £275 by holding the seventh annual ‘Strawberry Tea’ event.


The brainchild of parishioner Sandy Leys, Sandy and her husband Bob have hosted the event every year since 2000.  The parish CAFOD group donates strawberries and some of the group provide scones, both savoury and with cream and jam.  For the seventh Strawberry Tea, around thirty people attended from the three Catholic churches in Welwyn Garden City and all the money raised was from donations.

Bridie Nash said: “We serve everyone with a bowl of strawberries and cream on arrival the bring out the scones and of course make gallons of tea.  We have only had one wet year, so God is good to us considering our changeable summers.”