A pupil from All Saints School in Sheffield, Kit Bell, has won the writing section of the Columban Young Journalists Competition in Britain on the theme, ‘Tackling our Throwaway Culture’. John Vidal, former Environment Editor at The Guardian felt Kit’s article was a “strong” entry with “good links made between poverty and environment”. Ruth Gledhill of The Tablet liked that “it started with a personal behavioural anecdote and extrapolated from that, based on Catholic social teachings”. Kit rounded off her article by saying that, “indifference and selfishness are the only true drivers of this throwaway culture – so maybe it’s time for a change of heart”.
Second place was Evelyn James from St. Mark’s School in Hounslow whose article was thought by John Vidal to get “to the heart of the dilemma”. She was critical of lavish and wasteful lifestyles side by side with poverty, exacerbated by climate change. The articles of Gabriela Fanucciu, St Bede’s, Lytham St Anne’s and Maeve Ann Burrell, All Saints, Sheffield came joint third. They offered hope that if we shun single-use plastic, alongside reducing consumption, recycling and reusing, then we can be on the path to respecting God’s creation once again. “We must alter our capital-driven mindsets to focus on the real importance and beauty of what is around us” suggested Gabriela.
The winning video came from Chloe Laberinto from St. Paul’s School in Milton Keynes. Nick Benson of The Universe applauded the link made in the video between recycling and action urged by Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato Si’. He said, “she echoes his call to undergo ecological conversion”. Jo Siedlecka of Independent Catholic News described the video as, “thoughtful and informative”. All the judges commended second place video winner, Evie McCann, from St Bede’s Catholic School, Lytham St Annes and the joint third place winners, Maureen Unwunali and Benjamin Cooper. Maureen, from St Paul’s, Milton Keynes, “showcased her talented creativity in her poetic statement on our society’s throwaway culture”, according to Nick Benson. Ruth Gledhill said the dramatic video by Benjamin, from Bishop Ullathorne, Coventry, was “outstanding” and “beautifully storyboarded and produced”.
The Columbans invited students to write an article or produce a short video on the topic of ‘Tackling our Throwaway Culture’. Two separate strands were held – one for students in Britain and the other for students in Ireland. They were encouraged to use their journalistic writing and mobile skills to look at a topical issue which is relevant to Catholic Social Teaching and resonates with Columban mission. Each had two categories, writing and video, and leading journalists in Britain and Ireland judged the entries. The subject matter recognised the Columbans’ long established work on themes within Laudato Si’ in all 16 countries where they work. Past competitions have focused on ‘The Challenge of Climate Change’ and ‘Migrants are our Neighbours’.
Around 100 young people entered between Britain and Ireland, and in England alone more than 20 schools were involved, from Hartlepool and Warrington in the north to Brentford and Wimbledon in London. Their teachers and Britain’s external judges – Nick Benson, Ruth Gledhill, Jo Siedlecka, and John Vidal – were warmly thanked for their support of the Columban competition.
See the full list of winners here.