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Students put Catholic Social Teaching into practice

Students at St John Fisher Catholic High School in Peterborough have been involved in Citizens UK since its inception, putting Catholic Social Teaching into practice in the process, reports Natalie Reay, Head of Sixth Form at the school.

Putting Catholic Social Teaching into practice is central to the Church’s mission both at an individual and a community level. Our Catholic schools are particularly good at doing this through their charity work and in educating the next generation of adults to understand their role in working towards the Common Good, standing in solidarity with those in need and actively working to improve the dignity of all as children of God.

There are countless examples of excellent work being done across all our Diocesan schools, including providing local support to food banks and homeless centres, help for the victims of the terrible earthquake in Turkey and Syria and of course taking part in the current CAFOD Big Lent Walk. Getting involved in making real changes to peoples’ lives often spurs children and young people on to do more.

Students at St John Fisher have been involved in Citizens UK since its inception. Over the past 12 months, a group of our Sixth Form students have been working with Peterborough Citizens – an alliance of diverse civic society institutions, including primary and secondary schools, universities, public and private sector organisations and many more. Their aim is to develop community leaders, strengthen their institutions and most importantly take action to bring about real change.

In 2022, Peterborough Citizens had three main priorities, Crime and Safety, Mental Health and a welcome for refugees, resettling in our city. Our students were members of the Crime and Safety campaign. Ufuoma Ehwerhemuepha, who read at Bishop Peter’s Ordination in December, and Mental Health campaigner Skye Puga have worked incredibly hard alongside other delegates to pursue change in these areas.

In October 2022, Ufuoma co-chaired the Peterborough Citizens Founding Assembly where she shared why she had become part of Peterborough Citizens and the Crime and Safety campaign.

“I am a student from St John Fisher passionate about working in the community,” she said. “As a group, fear was what we first set out to combat. The outer rings of Central Park in Peterborough become pitch-black in the winter nights, a sure sign to stay away for anyone scared for their safety. Lighting was central to our ambitions. The outer area of the park had always been unlit, due to concerns about disrupting the bat habitat. Nevertheless, we found a solution. Over the past year, we have persuaded and guided the City Council to put in a bid to install solar studs around these outer paths. These are small, low, solar-powered lights embedded on the sides of pathways,” said Ufuoma.

In February we were notified that as part of this work Ufuoma and the Crime and Safety group have done, they have managed to secure £20,000 to install solar stud lighting around Central Park. We are very proud of our students’ involvement in these campaigns and the great work that Peterborough Citizens is making in positive change.

On February 21, St John Fisher was represented again at the Peterborough Citizens Delegates Assembly at Nene Park Academy, where over 150 guests were in attendance. Badejo Adebusuyi, Carolina Figueiredo and Ufuoma Ehwerhemuepha represented the school.

Ufuoma shared the listening work that she had done in school with over 40 students in the Sixth Form to find out what they would like to prioritise in the city for 2023-24. Her findings were that students wanted to prioritise littering, the environment and homelessness.

During the evening, over 10,000 listening results were shared and a vote was held to establish the priorities for Peterborough Citizens over the next year. These were decided as Homelessness, Crime and Safety and No small voice. Our Year 12 students have signed up to these priorities and they look forward to working on them in the next year.

Pictured above are Ufuoma Ehwerhemuepha (left) Carolina Figueiredo and Badejo Adebusuyi.