Leeds Trinity become first university to partner with global social justice charity


The Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) is an international charity helping people living in poverty.

The Director of Catholic Mission in a group photo with seven other people.

A global justice leadership programme aimed at students signified the launch of a new partnership between the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) and Leeds Trinity University – the first university partnership of its kind for the international charity. 

CAFOD reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, regardless of their religion, culture and background. They are the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales and part of Caritas International – a collection of 162 national Catholic relief and development agencies working across the world. Through this network, one of the largest in the world, it gives them the potential to reach as many people as possible, supporting their mission for global justice so everyone has the right to live a full and dignified life. 

CAFOD worked in collaboration with Dr Ann Marie Mealey, Director of Catholic Mission at Leeds Trinity University, to organise and deliver the pilot leadership programme, held at the University’s Main Campus in Horsforth on Monday 15 April. The full day programme was led by North East-based Kirstie Hutchinson, Young Leadership Coordinator, and Carol Cross, Community Participation Coordinator, from CAFOD. It encouraged students to think differently about the world and use their skills and voices in helping to shape the next generation of leaders. 

Participants explored what leadership looks like and how they as individuals can raise awareness and contribute to a more just world. They discussed a range of historic and current issues, statistics and injustices, such as climate change, poverty and the impact of conflicts. They also engaged in group activities aimed at fostering critical reflection on the challenges facing the world; this included a group task which challenged participants to design a campaign inspired by love, compassion and leadership to raise awareness of what a better world could look like. 

The day also featured a showing of a TED talk from Simon Sinek, a leadership expert and author of best-selling books Leaders Eat Last, Start with Why and The Infinite Game. The talk focussed on how strong leaders have an ability to articulate their purpose and mission to others in a way that brings support, understanding and desire to work towards a shared goal. 

Amy Kiani, Philosophy, Ethics and Religion student and President of the Philosophy, Ethics and Religion Society at Leeds Trinity University, said: “I wanted to attend the event because I am passionate about combating global injustice and poverty. I strongly believe that more young people should be involved in such projects as future leaders and skilled professionals.

“I very much enjoyed the compassion CAFOD evoked in me and other attendees, and it was lovely to see people of all faiths and backgrounds come together as one. It awakened and further strengthened our voices to positively contribute to changing our planet for the better by spreading love by helping others. The programme was a valuable experience for me, and I will reflect on the discussions I had as I continue to work towards global justice, peace and creating positive change.”

Carol Cross said: Kirstie and I are pleased the day was so well received and were amazed by the depth of discussions and engagement of the participants. It has been an encouraging start to what we hope will build into a fruitful and positive relationship for the new partnership between Leeds Trinity University and CAFOD.”

In line with Leeds Trinity’s Catholic Mission, values and behaviours, the new partnership reinforces the University’s aim to create a more equal community by providing students and staff with the knowledge, experience and support to aid academic, professional, personal and spiritual development. Leeds Trinity also focusses on developing graduates who are equipped to recognise their own skills and strengths and identify how they can make an impact in the world. 

The leadership programme was the first piece of activity as part of the new partnership. Further opportunities for staff, students and the wider community, with an interest in global affairs, will take place in the near future.  

Ann Marie Mealey, Director of Catholic Mission at Leeds Trinity University, said: “We are thrilled to be working with CAFOD to help deliver our Catholic Mission through high-quality, values-driven and informed leadership and development opportunities. Having the confidence to speak up and act for justice and change in our world, in relation to some of the most pressing issues of our time, is part of what we do at Leeds Trinity. Working with CAFOD will help us to develop a global perspective on issues affecting the most vulnerable and engage in the much-needed advocacy that the world needs for a better, shared future.” 

For more information on Leeds Trinity’s Catholic Mission and background, visit the University website. 

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