To celebrate National Volunteers Week, the Hexham and Newcastle blog is being taken over today by 21 year-old Danielle Storey, a volunteer on CAFOD’s Step into the Gap program. Here she tells us how her journey with CAFOD began.
“Hi everyone! My name is Danielle; I’m 21 and come from Cullercoats, the parish of Our Lady & St Oswin and St Mary’s. I’m currently volunteering on CAFOD’s leadership programme, Step into The Gap, with the Youth Ministry Trust (the youth service for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle). I’m loving every minute!
My route into CAFOD was slightly different compared to some. I’ve known about CAFOD for a while through my schools but it wasn’t until my final year studying at Newcastle University that I thought about doing a gap year. I had to have a year out before applying for my Master’s degree, so began looking at gap years and volunteering opportunities overseas since that year may have been the only chance I would get to fulfill a life ambition before beginning my career. I wanted my gap year to be one rooted in faith, so CAFOD along with other Christian charities came to mind and I began searching. It was then I found out that CAFOD offer a gap year programme, and when I realized one of the placements they offer is at YMT I knew I was meant to do it. I remember going on a retreat to YMT and them coming into my school to do a mission. During a CAFOD session they lead I remember we wrote down on pieces of paper ambitions for our future to make landslides happen in the world. I still have that piece of paper today; I wrote that I wanted to go to Africa, meet children over there and make a difference. I would never in a million years thought I’d get to do exactly that.
This year I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and done so much more than I could ever have imagined. At YMT we work with so many young people of all ages being a witness and helping them to realise their worth and potential to make a difference, giving others same opportunity I had. This year alone we’ve encountered over 11,000 young people so far. I now have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities and my faith has grown so much stronger.
The trip overseas to Zimbabwe was a highlight and something I can never forget, seeing first hand CAFOD’s work in action and where exactly fundraiser’s money goes. CAFOD partners and their volunteers were so inspiring – it’s such a privilege to be able to raise awareness of what they do and be their voice back here in our UK placements to spread hope.
I have to say this year I’ve definitely learnt the power of landslides. Small acts can and do change the world. I have witnessed it through the work of YMT and CAFOD, from the smallest group of primary school children fundraising, to the amazing work volunteers do in countries like Zimbabwe with the support of CAFOD, to a young person realizing for the first time they are loved and have the power to change the world. I have learnt a lot during my year with CAFOD and YMT, and the skills and confidence I’ve developed will definitely be taken forwards into my future whatever I end up doing.
I couldn’t recommend this experience more to anyone considering a gap year volunteering option – go ahead and start a landslide…your life will never be the same!”