"Pope Francis is doing a tremendous amount both to open people's eyes and to point people in the right direction to do things about climate change." These are the words of Ged Edwards, who as a community participation coordinator for CAFOD in Liverpool Archdiocese, is delighted to hear the Pope's message – and ready to lend support to any parishes and schools seeking to act on it.
CAFOD, as Ged explains, offers a solid platform for action with its Livesimply scheme. This is a project giving Catholics the opportunity to respond together to Pope Francis's invitation to play our part in "protecting this world which God has entrusted to us".
And it is a project that Ged is understandably enthusiastic about. "It's a marvellous project which is great for parishes and schools alike and brings people together around this vital scheme," he says. "It's been going for six or seven years but was revised earlier this year to go alongside Laudato Si' and the Year of Mercy. We're looking for parishes that are interested in living more sustainably and are bringing parishes together with schools to do that. It's based upon people trying to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor, which is taken from Pope Paul VI's Populorum Progressio."
Participant communities propose solutions for each of these three categories – simple living, sustainability and solidarity. In the case of the first, it may be something as simple as parish members all walking to church on a given Sunday. For sustainability, it could be encouraging parishioners to insulate their houses better. Solidarity could mean supporting a local food bank. "There'll be one major action and two minor actions under each of those three headings," adds Ged. "There are some great examples on CAFOD's website."
It is little wonder that Ged describes this as a project "close to my heart". He has an MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development, gained from De Montford University in 2007. In his last job, meanwhile, he worked on a community-based venture involving recycling and reusing furniture in the Chester suburb of Blacon – Sustainable Blacon was the name and it was one of 20 nationwide initiatives to find ways to live a more low-carbon lifestyle.
"I was particularly drawn to going back to work in the Church because of CAFOD's experience in climate change and the impact it's having on poor countries around the world and increasingly here too," admits the 56-year-old, who once ran the Catholic Children's Society in Shrewsbury Diocese.
A parishioner at St Austin's in Thatto Heath, the Rainhill resident began working at CAFOD in 2012, initially in Salford Diocese, before arriving in Liverpool 15 months ago. "I share the role of covering the diocese with Colette Byrne. My role is to support volunteers to enable them to support CAFOD's work locally and across the diocese.
"It's a big diocese and trying to respond to that is a challenge – personal focus is not always easy but at the same time it's very rewarding because it's important work we do for the Church and it's great to meet people who want to do it." And when it involves helping to combat climate change, then all the better.
• Anybody wishing to get involved with CAFOD can contact Ged by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on tel. 0151 228 4028. To read more about Livesimply, visit: http://cafod.org.uk/Campaign/How-to-campaign/Livesimply-award