Justice and Peace Group

The parishioners of Saint Mary’s Cathedral have supported many local and international causes over the years with generous financial donations and by providing practical help and support where required. To build upon this firm foundation and to further our mission to help our brothers and sisters in need, a ‘Justice and Peace Group’ for the Parish was formed early in 2011. The aims of the group include :

  • Coordinating fund raising to provide support to people in need, in the UK and around the world.
  • Raising awareness of Justice and Peace issues at home and abroad.
  • Increasing our awareness of the social teaching of the Catholic Church and disseminating information received on important social issues.
  • Providing support to organizations which look after refugees, the poor and the disadvantaged.

The Ten Pence Bowl

Some years ago, one of our much loved Parishioners, the late Pat Rutherford, came up with the idea of a 10 pence collection bowl at the Hemlington Centre Masses as a means of raising funds for charitable causes. When the masses at Hemlington ceased, the ten pence bowl idea was adopted at the Cathedral as a simple means of making donations to a charitable cause chosen by the Parishioners. In addition to the regular bowl collections, the causes we have chosen to support have received one-off donations and funds from sponsorships and other fundraising events, raising many thousands of pounds to help people in need in our own area and across the globe.

Our Current Main Cause

Whilst our Justice and Peace Group aim to offer support in a variety of ways to a wide range of local and international causes on an ongoing basis, we have also agreed to provide more regular support to one or more projects for fixed periods.

From 2011 to 2014, for example, we supported the Holy Family Children’s Home in Bethlehem. This cause became the main beneficiary of funds raised via our collection bowl and other one-off fundraising events undertaken within the Parish and by our associated Parish Schools.

Our agreed period of support for the Bethlehem orphanage came to an end in December 2014.

Student Sponsorship in Gambia

From January 2015 our Parish supported Student Sponsorship in Gambia.

In supporting this project we worked in partnership with staff and students at Trinity Catholic College, Middlesbrough.

Trinity College have visited this particular location in Gambia in the past and have established contacts there with the schools and the church. We are pleased to unite with them in support for this community in the firm belief that ‘Education is for all’ and is the best foundation for building a better life and for improving living standards. The school we are supporting is a Government Upper Basic Secondary School in Sifoe, Gambia. Children attend this school after completion of their primary education at the Catholic Mission School.

Education brings hope to children and their families

Our sponsorship of underprivileged children in rural areas of Gambia is a most powerful and cost effective means of securing a brighter future for the children. The aim is to help them out of poverty by ensuring that they achieve their full potential. Access to education gives them a substantially higher chance of getting a job, which in turn is vital for their very survival, providing them and their families with food, clothes and shelter, as well as contributing to the future prosperity of their country.

The following quotation from a student of Trinity Catholic College explains the motivation for their support and we echo these sentiments entirely:

“Our school ethos is to ‘live out gospel values’ and follow the teachings of Christ, with each other and the wider community. We are very privileged to receive an education at Trinity and as a school and a community we feel it is right to try to help and support children of The Gambia with their education and futures as we are extremely fortunate in relation to them with our own education at Trinity.”

The Justice and Peace group were helped to facilitate this support by Steve McNicholas, who teaches at Trinity College. Steve has set up this sponsorship and developed links in Gambia with a local Priest, Father Yenes Manneh in Sifoe.

Ten children from grades 7 and 8, from the Junior Secondary School in Sifoe, have been selected by the Parish Priest, Father Yenes, and their sponsorship started from Easter 2015 and will continue over 5 years.

We expect to receive communication from Father Yenes about the children soon and he also has sent messages of gratitude for our support from the students, families and community.

Eston Fellowship Group

From April 2015 we have supported The Eston Handicapped Fellowship.

The Fellowship provides an annual Holiday in July for its members with learning difficulties and physical disability, giving some time for their families and usual carers to relax and recharge their batteries. Many carers and volunteers help to give the members this much needed holiday which they otherwise would not have.

The Fellowship recognises the special care and tireless work done by parents, guardians and carers in ministering to those with special needs and the additional responsibilities this care entails and strives to provide whatever support it can in this essential work. Although the Fellowship supports families in many ways it was this aspect of their work in providing the annual Holiday that we wanted to help with. So far through donations to the Cathedral Bowl £1,500 has been donated to provide a holiday for at least six people.

As a Justice and Peace Group we are indebted to the financial support of our Parishioners and our Schools in being able to offer this kind of invaluable help to those in need.



CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. CAFOD’s aim is to bring hope and compassion to poor communities across the world, standing side by side with them to end poverty and injustice.

Saint Mary’s Cathedral Parish has a long history of support for CAFOD via regular collections and by responding generously to specific appeals for humanitarian aid when natural disasters have occurred around the globe, raising funds by sponsored runs and other events.

For more information about the important work undertaken by CAFOD please visit www.cafod.org.uk/CAFOD-in-your-area/Middlesbrough

Support for refugees and asylum seekers

Middlesbrough supports a thriving community of people from all over the world, seeking protection from persecution. Since the formation of our Justice and Peace group we have sought to improve awareness of the needs of refugees and asylum seekers in our area and to provide practical help through our support for the following local agencies and organisations.

Justice First :  http://justicefirst.org.uk/

  • Justice First was established in 2006 to help people in the Tees Valley who are seeking asylum in the United Kingdom and whose appeals have been rejected, to re-engage with the legal system.
  • We have provided a platform via our parish with meetings and non-denominational services to allow Justice First to spread the message about the injustices and hardships faced by many refugees and asylum seekers arriving in our country.

How else are we helping ?  

The following three local organisations offer a wide range of support services to refugees and asylum seekers in our area, often including the provision of basic food, clothing and household goods for those in desperate need of such help. We hold regular collections of food, clothing, toiletries and other furniture or household items at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, which are then distributed via these agencies. If you wish to donate, you can do so directly to the organisations via their contact details below, or email our Cathedral Justice & Peace Group at jspstmarycathedral@gmail.com

North of England Refugee Service : www.refugee.org.uk/middlesbrough  01642 217447

  • From its base at Grange Road, Middlesbrough, NERS acts as an agent of positive change to improve the conditions of life for asylum seekers and refugees and promotes social inclusion by facilitating their integration into and participation in our society.
  • NERS accepts donations of all kinds of goods for distribution, sale or recycling, including books, old phones, ink cartridges and clothing. Further details on how to donate are available on their website.

Open Door North East : www.opendoornortheast.com  01642 213634

  • An organisation with similar goals to NERS, they aim to befriend and help asylum seekers and refugees.
  • This is a charitable organisation with a Christian ethos which operates from Melbourne House, Newport Road, Middlesbrough.  They will gratefully accept donations of food and toiletries  – a full list of the kind of products they need is available on their website.

Methodist Asylum Project : www.middlesbroughandestonmethodistcircuit.org.uk/map Contact Ailsa Adamson 07970 1928

  • MAP Middlesbrough exists to provide practical support and social opportunities for those seeking asylum in our area.
  • As well as running a weekly drop in centre for refugees and asylum seekers and other social activities at various locations around Middlesbrough, they also collect a range of goods for redistribution.
  • They are happy to accept – Clothes for men, women and children – Bedding – Electrical Items – Kitchen crockery and utensils – and even bubble wrap and packing !

Middlesbrough Foodbank –  www.middlesbrough.foodbank.org.uk

In addition to our collections for refugees and asylum seekers, we acknowledge that there is a more widespread problem of food poverty in the UK, with approximately 13 million people living below the official poverty line. For this reason, we also arrange regular food collections via our parish to assist the work of the Middlesbrough Foodbank at St Cuthbert’s Centre, Middlesbrough.
Their website above gives full details about the work of this valuable project, but essentially this is how it works :
  • All donated food is sorted and stored, mainly with the help of volunteer workers
  • Care Professionals ( Doctors, health visitors, social workers, welfare officers, police and probation officers identify people in crisis and issue Foodbank vouchers.
  • Clients exchange their vouchers for 3 days supply of emergency food
  • Volunteers meet with clients and signpost them to other agencies to try to solve the longer term problem.

All food that can be stored is welcome – Tinned/Packet Foods, Cereals, Biscuits and Snacks. Food can be donated via our regular collections at Saint Mary’s Cathedral or you can contact the Foodbank directly on 07954 131337.


Mary Thompson Fund

Set up at the behest of her sister Trudie, from donations following Mary’s funeral some years ago and administered by Pete Wilinski of the NE Refugee Service based in Middlesbrough, the MTF provides weekly carriers of dried/tinned foods, toiletries and cleaning products to the value of £5 to those asylum seekers who have had all financial and housing support withdrawn. This happens when asylum has been refused and appeals not yet heard, a process that can take many years in spite of the asylum seekers not being allowed to have paid employment. It relies on donations to operate. This is the organisation which is the main recipient of our regular Cathedral collections for food etc.

Mary and her sister Trudie were lifelong devotees of Justice and Peace, known locally, nationally and abroad for their work in helping those in great need. Mary initiated the Middlesbrough Diocese Co-Workers of Mother Teresa Group to help in the Third World. When Mother Teresa directed such groups to address all local and international work with the poor, Mary set up the first Middlesbrough Diocese Justice and Peace Group/Commission as well as the Middlesbrough Group based in the parish of the Holy Name Parish. Until very recently Trudie chaired the MT F but aged 91 and with dementia she is no longer able to play an active part.

Mary taught maths at Newlands Convent Grammar School and went on to be Deputy Head of St. Mary’s VI Form College.


Acts 435

  • In January 2014 Saint Mary’s Cathedral was the venue for an Ecumenical Service open to all denominations. A Cathedral full to bursting came to listen to our own Bishop Terence Drainey and the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. At the conclusion of this inspirational event a collection was taken, part of which was to support an organisation called Acts 435.
  • Acts 435 is a Christian Charity whose aim is to bring immediate help to people in financial need. It works by matching up those who want to give, with those in need.
  • Acts 435 is a revolutionary website that allows people to give money directly to others. 100% of what is donated via Acts 435 goes directly to those in need. If you GiftAid your donation, it helps towards the running costs of the charity.
  • Our Justice and Peace Group can relate to the aims and objectives of this project as a means of helping individuals in need. You choose who you want to help, give what you can afford and the charity do the rest.


  • Our Justice and Peace Group affiliated with THRIVE in June 2012, joining a number of other inter-denominational Justice and Peace Groups in offering moral backing and support to the aims and objectives of the organisation.
  • THRIVE is an award-winning registered charity, which previously worked in partnership with Church Action on Poverty, but is now an independent charity supported by a range of grant funders.
  • Thrive’s mission is to support and enable people living in poverty and on the margins of society to improve their livelihoods. Thrive will ensure equality of opportunity to participate in meaningful activities that promote and build stronger communities with more active citizens working together to tackle their problems.


  • Action by Christians Against Torture, Acat(UK), was formed in 1984 by the then British Council of Churches, with the active support of Amnesty International and Society of Friends.
  • The aims of acat(uk) are to raise awareness of the widespread use of torture and to work as Christians, for the abolition of torture worldwide by campaigning and prayer.
  • Their work involves obtaining information on specific examples of torture worldwide and writing letters to governments in countries where torture is practiced calling for its abolition.
  • We aim to support their Urgent Action Scheme by sending appeal letters on behalf of those under threat of torture or death, the disappeared, those subject to extrajudicial execution and those detainees at risk of torture.
  • More information about acat(uk) is available on their website, http://www.acatuk.org.uk, where there is a bimonthly Newsletter. Our prayers are needed.


  • Dates for our group meetings, talks, presentations and events are always detailed in the weekly Parish Bulletin which is available at all weekend masses.
  • We are very happy for new members to join our group and if you would like more information please contact Laurie Haley by telephone on 07730 761365 or Teresa Lyth on 07885 599810 or email  jpstmarycathedral@gmail.com