First the Goodbye! – from Joe Burns

What is happening?
Photo of Joe BurnsI’m retiring from providing paid services to the J&P Commission. I had my 65th birthday recently and have been providing the Commission with my services since mid-2014.
What have you been doing for the Commission?
I put together the newsletters, I developed and update the website and Facebook page of the Commission and I also do most of the admin & marketing around the events that the Commission organises. It is ‘goodbye-ish’ rather than goodbye in that I still intend to remain involved in the work of the Commission – but on a voluntary basis.
How did you become involved in the first place?
Well, in March 2014 I was 5 months into a permanent job that was so awful that I just resigned. I had decided to set myself up as a self-employed consultant to develop websites and provide management consultancy for smaller voluntary sector organisations – my background was in business and IT project and programme management. When I was telling John Battle (Commission Chair) about this he mentioned that the Commission needed some work doing and that it might be of interest. And it was.
What have you enjoyed most about the work you have done?
I could say all sorts of things but I think the main enjoyment has come (as it has with me for most of the roles that I have had) from working with others to achieve some goal and feeling that I have made a genuine contribution towards achieving it – that I brought something to the effort that others did not.
What has been your worst moment?
I think it was the first week of doing things for the Commission. The J&P worker, Shelagh Fawcett, had been made redundant in February. My initial brief was to bring the website up to date – as by this time it was late June 2014. I managed to find some handwritten notes that told me how to login into the website content management system. However, when I typed in the web address, I received an error message. It turned out the Commission had forgotten to pay the bill to the company that hosted the website and, just a couple of days before, had taken the website down. It was not a promising start!

What do you think are the main challenges for the Commission, going forward?
Apart from the current political situation? – let’s leave that to one side.

Interpreting the ‘Signs of the Times’ and discerning the ‘Just’ Gospel response will always be a challenge. Layered on that is the ‘demographic cliff’ in terms of bringing younger generations through to see the faith context for taking action on Social Justice (my feeling is that younger generations are just as passionate about Social Justice issues as older generations but not many see the relevance of the Gospels in underpinning this action). The Leeds Commission is starting to tackle that through the SPARK Social Justice project that is now running -and my hope is that this will lead to a much wider generational involvement in the work of the Commission.

I also think that the Commission must continue to be open to new ways of working and new ways of involving people – just as it was when it decided to use my services!

Second, the Hello! – from Helen Hayden

Who Are you?
photo of Helen HaydenI’m Helen Hayden and I am delighted to have this opportunity to work for the Justice and Peace Commission in the Leeds Diocese. I am one of the Councillors for Templenewsam in East Leeds. My parish is St John Henry Newman and it is a privilege to not only live in my ward but also that my ward covers a good half of my parish. I am a RE teacher by profession and taught for many years in both Catholic and non-denominational secondary schools. I am active in the parish, in Children’s liturgy and I am a Catechist helping children and their families to prepare for the sacraments. Most importantly, I am Mum to Molly (9) and Richie (8)

What interested you about the work that the Commission needs doing?
I was drawn to apply to work with the Commission as it presented an opportunity combine my communication skills and faith in a very practical and tangible way. I am passionate about Catholic Social teaching. When I was teaching, I tried to inspire young people to put their faith into action. I have missed this aspect of my previous life, so I was very interested in promoting Catholic Social Teaching and Gospel values supporting the work of the Commission. The projects that the Commission is working on- Poverty, Climate Change – align with my work on the Council  through the Climate Emergency Declaration and my daily work mitigating the effects of poverty. In my role as Chair of the Adults, Health and Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board one of our main aims is to improve the health of the poorest the fastest. Working with the Commission will give me the opportunity to put my faith into action on these important issues.

What are most worried about?
Replacing Joe! I’m so pleased that Joe is not leaving the Commission, the way he has developed this role is very impressive and I can only hope that I can carry on his excellent work. I hope also to use my experience as a teacher to bring younger people to the work of the Commission. I know from experience how passionate young people are about social justice and we have all seen the school strikes for Climate Change. The appetite is there, as Joe says, it is now the time to link it to the Catholic faith and Gospel message.
What are you most excited about?
There are many things that I am enthused about: meeting all those involved in the Commission, working on such important issues that are affecting all of us now but the poorest the most; raising awareness of the Commission’s work especially amongst those groups who may not have been aware previously. I’m also excited about using my communication skills in a faith-based role.

Please note that you can still contact the Commission using the address – that is not changing.