Since the summer, a group of young adults, aged between 18-30, have been exploring various topics of social justice as part of the virtual Young Caritas Westminster Forum. Caritas Westminster launched this forum in partnership with the Young Christian Workers in August.
The forum sessions (held via Zoom) are led by Marc Besford, National President of the Young Christian Workers, and 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, therefore, are an opportunity to experience Catholic Social Teaching at work in the Church and understand the resonance it has when applied to present and contextual social issues.
Marc told us: “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 thus far have looked at topics ranging from mental health in young people, racial inequality and environmental issues, mirroring many of Caritas Westminster’s areas of work. 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 shown us all 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.”
If you’re aged between 18-30, and are interested in helping to tackle social injustice, then come along to a Young Caritas Westminster Forum!