News and events News Can you help CAFOD as it launches emergency appeal? The Archdiocese of Birmingham is aiming to feature a charity in need every Thursday. The Catholic aid agency, CAFOD, has launched an urgent appeal to respond to the unprecedented global challenge of tackling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. And people across the Archdiocese of Birmingham are invited to support it. “Coronavirus is a tsunami heading towards the homes of millions of poor communities who have nothing to protect themselves from its devastating impacts,” said Christine Allen, CAFOD’s Director. Aside from the many deaths that are likely due to infections, millions of people around the world who already struggle to feed their families will face extreme hunger as jobs are lost and markets shut down because of coronavirus. “The potential scale of the pandemic across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East - as well as among refugee and displaced populations in places such as Syria, South Sudan and the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh - is truly frightening. “These are vulnerable families who are unprepared to fight this virus and are being pushed to the brink of hunger and poverty,” said Christine. CAFOD is scaling up its support to local aid experts who are providing food and improving handwashing and sanitation facilities in communities and households. It is also helping churches use their networks to share hygiene messages through Catholic radio stations, and producing posters in local dialects on infection prevention. “We have a narrow window of opportunity to reach communities with the basics for life – food and clean water, and the messages they need on how best to keep safe,” said Christine. “Our local aid experts are already responding and trying to alleviate what is likely to be a catastrophe in terms of hunger, poverty and death as a result of this pandemic.” Sylvester Mutsigwa, CAFOD’s representative in Birmingham, said: “The coronavirus has had a massive impact on the community here in Birmingham – closing businesses, offices and schools - but even during these difficult times, the generosity and compassion of our city has shone through. “We’ve seen neighbours and communities come together to show great care and kindness to those who might be isolated or alone. “And, it is during these challenging times, CAFOD supporters also remember our sisters and brothers in some of the world’s poorest communities, facing the devastation that Coronavirus will bring to vulnerable families. “I know that the great compassion and generosity of the people of Birmingham will reach far beyond our city – reaching families in places like Zimbabwe, where CAFOD is already supporting with food distributions and relaying hygiene messages of how best to keep safe. Together, our actions give people hope in their time of greatest need.” According to the UN over a third of households in Africa have no access to handwashing facilities, and almost another third has limited access with either no water or soap. Millions of lives are at risk, with estimates that between 300,000 and 3.3 million people could lose their lives as a direct result of coronavirus (UN Economic Commission for Africa COVID-19 in Africa Report, 2020). Pope Francis in his ‘Urbi et orbi’ (Easter message) called on the world not to “yield to fear” regarding the spread of the coronavirus, but to unite and take action, “…because the challenge we are facing is shared by all without distinguishing between persons”. Donate to CAFOD's Coronavirus Appeal CAFOD’s VE Day quiz - Raising funds for the Coronavirus Appeal Friday 8 May marks the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe - or VE - day. In lieu of street parties, communities around the country will be holding distanced picnics, watching Winston Churchill’s famous speech, and joining in a nationwide sing-a-long of the classic ‘we’ll meet again’. Charity CAFOD is also joining in on the fun – inviting communities across the country to their first ever online quiz to mark the occasion. The quiz will take place this Friday 8 May from 6.30pm - 8pm and CAFOD are suggesting a donation of £5 per adult, which you can donate through their website. This will go towards their coronavirus appeal. You can register here, and make sure you tell your friends and family too!