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Before going into any school, Sister Silvana from Caritas Westminster’s Development Team always double-checks. Does she have Nigel, her unusual but indispensible sidekick? Nigel is a fluffy penguin and he’s a big hit with children. Along with Sister Silvana, he is helping to inspire primary and secondary school students to become Caritas Ambassadors.

The Caritas Ambassadors programme was launched in 2019 and is rooted in Catholic Social Teaching (see P7). “We want Catholic Social Teaching to be more than a display on the wall in school,” says Sister Silvana.

As Caritas Ambassadors, primary and secondary school children are challenged to explore their faith and its values. “We provide practical and creative lesson plans for teachers, who’ve told us they love the discussions they generate. The goal is for our Ambassadors to put their faith in action and find a way to make the world a better place,” explains Sister Silvana.

Just as the first set of children were about to begin their chosen social action project, the pandemic struck, and schools closed. In 2020, a further 70 Caritas Ambassadors started their training in schools around the Diocese, and the number of children taking part has continued to grow. We are hoping for another 20 schools, or more by the Autumn term.

“What’s amazing is how enthusiastic the children are,” says Sister Silvana. “As part of their discussions, they consider what’s happening in their community and further afield. Then they decide on what they want to do.

“This year, some of the children have chosen to lead their schools on projects to tackle loneliness among older people. Another group is helping those who are homeless. One set of Caritas Ambassadors wants to support the people of Ukraine. There's even a school that has decided to set up a food bank.”

For children growing up today, it’s empowering to discover that their faith can guide them to become leaders of social action in their school. Thank you for supporting initiatives like this. In doing so, you're helping to build more caring and compassionate communities.

I loved how we got to work together and have discussions, where we actually listened to each other’s views. I do believe my faith has been strengthened because of the projects we have completed. The programme has made me realise how lucky we are in our current situation. Every time we did a Caritas lesson, I felt that I walked out a better person, filled with more faith in God and knowledge.

Isabel - Year 6

You can support the Caritas Ambassadors programme by donating to the Cardinal's Appeal. With your kind help, the next generation is taking active steps to help create a better and more caring society. This work is only possible thanks to your generous donations to the Cardinals Appeal. Read more stories like this in the Autumn edition of the Mosaic Newsletter.