In August this year, Caritas Westminster launched the virtual Young Caritas Westminster Forum, in partnership with the Young Christian Workers. Meeting fortnightly, this group of young adults, aged between 18 to 30, has been exploring a number of varied topics relating to social justice.
The virtual sessions, led by Marc Besford, National President of the Young Christian Workers, follow the ‘See, Judge, Act’ framework. Participants are encouraged to see and understand an issue, judge the impact of their actions and discuss how they can act to bring about change. The sessions are an opportunity to experience Catholic Social Teaching at work in the Church, applied to present and contextual social issues.
Speaking about the forum, Marc said: ‘I am really pleased we have been able to pull together this exciting series of events in partnership with Caritas Westminster to create a Young Caritas Westminster Forum. We are living in unprecedented times and young people will be massively affected by this.’
‘Education has been interrupted, jobs lost or at risk, opportunities harder to find and other challenges that will impact on their future still needing focus. Giving young people a space to share their experiences and speak up is essential and the Young Caritas Westminster Forum will help our young leaders grapple with some of these and respond with authentic Christian action.’
The sessions have focused on a number of topics, many of which mirror Caritas Westminster’s areas of work. These themes have included mental health in young people, racial inequality, the environment, and the joint theme of Mitzvah Day and World Day of the Poor. Discussion has focussed especially on the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which has greatly exacerbated social inequality.
Over the past few weeks, 40 individuals have taken part in the forum sessions. After a recent meeting, one attendee reported: ‘I feel really empowered as a young person to develop my faith and share my experiences with others. We can become stronger together and make a difference to the lives of others. It is important for us to both See, Judge and Act - a good way to become young leaders and to surround ourselves with people who can help you grow.’
Although the sessions serve to primarily inform and highlight issues, another key function of them is to provide a place for young people to come together, share ideas and interact with those who have similar interests. The past few months have highlighted the importance of social interaction and the forums have allowed people to engage, once again, with others their age.
As Rosa Lewis, Caritas Westminster Development Worker for North London, explained: ‘At a time of great uncertainty, the Young Caritas Westminster Forum is an opportunity for young people to discuss social issues pertinent to them. It is a space in which to listen, learn and discern together.’
The Young Caritas Westminster Forum is open to anyone aged between 18 to 30, who is interested in helping to tackle social injustice.
The next Young Caritas Westminster Forum will take place on Tuesday 20th October, and the discussion topic will be the Migrant and Refugee Crisis. Participants can go to the Eventbrite page to sign up.