A Chester volunteer is preparing to meet communities in Sierra Leone which have been helped by Chester fundraising as part of her gap year with the international development charity CAFOD.

Siobhan Doyle, aged 22, is taking part in CAFOD’s ‘Step into the Gap’ programme after completing her Spanish and international development studies at the University of Chester.

During her gap year, Siobhan has been based at Newman University in Birmingham, volunteering in the chaplaincy team and working alongside the local community. She will be travelling to Sierra Leone this month to meet communities that CAFOD works alongside.

Siobhan said: “One of the reasons I am so excited is that I studied international development at university and I’ve had a passion for international development and social justice since I began to learn more about global issues in secondary school.

“After learning about so much about development and having the opportunity to visit the United Nations in my final year it will be incredible to see this first hand. It will be particularly interesting to see the effects of the civil war which ended in 2010, the impact of the Ebola outbreak and the aftermath of the landslide in August this year.

“Although we may see some things or hear some stories that are difficult, I am looking forward to seeing the progress that has been made.”

All of the gap year volunteers

Siobhan will spend two weeks visiting CAFOD projects and meeting communities who have been helped by generous communities in the UK, like the community of Chester which has raised thousands for the charity over the years.

When she returns from her trip, Siobhan plans to visit various locations across the Northwest to speak about her experience and share the stories of the communities she meets in Sierra Leone.

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Siobhan continued: “We have just come back from our international and security training and it has hit me that it is not long until we set off for Sierra Leone. I feel so privileged to have this opportunity and to see first-hand the work CAFOD, and the local organisations it works alongside, does on the ground.

“I am really looking forward to getting to know the partners and the people in the communities, it will be a privilege to hear their stories and be able to share these back in the UK.”

Applications are now open for Step into the Gap 2018 with the deadline for applications on February 19.

Volunteers who take part will be able to live and work in a UK placement for an academic year and will also have the opportunity to spend time with one of CAFOD’s sister agencies overseas, to see some of the work that CAFOD helps to fund.

For more information visit cafod.org.uk/gapyear.