Faith in action at the G7 Summit

The G7 Summit will be an exciting opportunity for teenager Erin Walsh.  A ‘Step into the Gap’ volunteer with CAFOD, she will be travelling to Cornwall with 18 other young Catholics, including another Essex-based colleague, Kezia Harrow, to take part in fringe events around the Summit. They and the many others attending want the G7 leaders to plan for a global and green recovery from the pandemic which leaves no one behind.

“CAFOD is sending us to represent what it wants the G7 to focus on, post-pandemic – and there will be lots of other charities and faith groups there to do the same.”

She is passionate about their arguments. “We want banks like JP Morgan to cancel the debts of poor countries, who are currently spending more on servicing those debts than their vaccination programmes.  Even delaying them, as some banks have done, does not allow economies to get back on track as they are still hanging over them.”

The second strand, she says, is the climate crisis. “Action needs to be taken now – and the pandemic has shown how much difference a small change can make. We want to push the G7 countries to put emphasis on the climate crisis and fix it before it is too late.”

The first fringe event around the summit will be an online interfaith service on Thursday 10 June at Truro Cathedral, which will see faith leaders reflect on the impact of the pandemic, how we rebuild and send a digital message to the presidents and prime ministers ahead of the start of their meeting the next day. (G7 interfaith event – Building a better world after the pandemic | CAFOD) 

Says Erin: “After that we will be doing media work to promote what we are trying to achieve and there is to be a creative art installation, around the eyes of the world on us.”

She adds: “I feel amazingly privileged to be able to go there in person and speak out about what I believe in. I feel passionate about the climate emergency and I believe we can have an impact at a big event like that.”

As a CAFOD volunteer, she works with the Brentwood Catholic Youth Service promoting the charity’s work in schools. “In normal times, we would go on an overseas trip during the gap year to see at first- hand CAFOD’s work with its partners on the ground,” says Erin. The pandemic has made that impossible and the charity has had to adapt. “Instead we have had online international partner calls with programme leaders,” says Erin. “But that has made it more enriching as we have heard about work in many different locations, including South Sudan, Latin America and Cambodia.”

She is due to study medicine at Newcastle next year and hopes to be helping people in a different way in the future. “My dream would be to provide medical help in those countries with CAFOD.”