Joe’s Place is located in St. Joseph’s Parish Centre in Gateshead. It has provided a warm welcome and hot, freshly cooked food to anyone in need, every Wednesday since May 2014. Many volunteers have been working on the project since it began, though new volunteers are always needed, and some of our clients have now become regular helpers.
The Fairtrade Stall was started about 15 years ago to raise awareness of those working in developing countries producing goods and the need to pay a fair price for these products. We were designated a Fairtrade church by the Diocese and display the certificate at the back of church. Traidcraft is the company we use as they are the only company that puts money back into the communities to pay for schools, community centres etc. Should products fail they will endeavour to help those concerned to find a new venture. We encourage everyone to buy Traidcraft products rather than those on display in Supermarkets as they are not committed to ongoing support of the workers.
A small profit which is sometimes made is sent to CAFOD.
Throughout the year the parish supports CAFOD with collections and sharing information with parishioners about CAFOD activities in the Diocese. A bulletin is forwarded to the parish regularly and if any information needs to be shared it will appear in the parish bulletin. The annual pilgrimage to Holy Island is a very popular event in the Diocese and many of our parishioners attend. CAFOD hold regular talks around the Diocese and many overseas speakers inform us about developments in their own countries. CAFOD has a number of supporters and volunteers around the Diocese who work closely with them.
Kumbo Diocese, Cameroon
In 1986, I went to work in for a few years in Kumbo Diocese, Cameroon, as a lay associate of the Mill Hill Missionaries. Kumbo is in the hills of the North West Province of this small and very beautiful West African country. The ‘connection’ made then between St Peter’s Parish and Cameroon has continued to grow and many parishioners have supported Cameroon with prayers, donations and fundraising over the years. Soup lunches and Christmas Turkey Sandwiches have ensured that many children have been able to attend primary school.
In 2006, Pat O’Connor and Cecilia Connelly joined me on a visit to Kumbo Diocese and spent an unforgettable two weeks in Cameroon. It was a great adventure and an overwhelming experience to be with people who are so poor in a material way but so rich in hospitality and welcome.
In particular, we visited the three schools in one of the poorest and most rural parts of the Diocese who receive help from St Peter’s for primary school fees. Most children cannot go to school because they have no money for fees. The schools are St Martin de Porres, Nkambe, St Michael’s Kungi and St Sylvester’s, Akweto. We continue to support these schools by sending money directly through the Mill Hill Missionaries.
St Peter’s School have also been generously involved in helping children in Cameroon and participated in a book donation which enabled a small library to be set up. It is hoped that another visit from our parish can be organised soon so that we can strengthen the links with the primary schools. However, over the last eighteen months, the two English speaking provinces of Cameroon have been very troubled with much political unrest. Please pray for Kumbo Diocese and especially for its children.