Pupils from Catholic schools across Teesside have sent a powerful message to world leaders as they prepare to gather for next month’s crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Children from St Augustine’s and St Gerard’s Catholic Primary Schools in Middlesbrough visited St Mary’s Cathedral in Middlesbrough to give their backing to CAFOD’s Eyes of the World campaign ahead of the Glasgow summit, which is also known as COP26.

Pupils from St Patrick’s Catholic College in Thornaby and St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough also gave their backing to the campaign.

The Catholic aid charity wants to show leaders they will be held to account if they fail to deliver lasting solutions to protect our planet.

Martin Macaulay, executive headteacher at St Augustine’s and St Gerard’s, hopes governments will take far more radical steps than ever before to ensure a sustainable future.

“Throughout their childhood, young people have heard the increasingly stark warnings about the impact of climate change and they are making their voices heard in terms of demanding that world leaders act now,” he said. 

“Through the Eyes of the World campaign, young people are directly telling world leaders that they are watching them. 

“Our pupils are acting on Pope Francis’ call in Laudato Si’ to care for our world and protect the environment as part of the common good.”

As well as visiting the cathedral, children throughout both schools also took part in assemblies, made posters and wrote prayers and letters.

“I believe that the campaign and the actions of our children will inspire others across the UK to play their part in tackling climate change and wider issues around social injustice,” said Mr Macaulay.

“I hope the voices of the younger generation will be heard so that future generations will inherit the world they deserve. We must not fail them.”

Pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough

Pupils at St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Middlesbrough

CAFOD Middlesbrough community participation coordinator Carol Cross said she was deeply moved by the children’s concern about the environmental crisis.  

“The pupils of St Gerard’s, St Augustine’s, St Patrick’s and St Joseph’s have demonstrated that when we work together we can raise awareness, get our voices heard and bring about change,” she said.

“These schools have been wonderful supporters of CAFOD for many years and it is fabulous to see children taking a stand for what they believe in. Other children and young people from across the diocese have participated in the campaign and raised their concerns too.

Children from St Patrick’s Catholic College in Thornaby displaying the CAFoD banner alongside head of school Deborah Law and chaplain Alison Fisk

Children from St Patrick’s Catholic College in Thornaby displaying the CAFoD banner alongside head of school Deborah Law and chaplain Alison Fisk

“The eyes of the world are on us this year as Britain hosts world leaders for the climate change talks. They will make important decisions that will shape the future of our global family.

“With schools across the UK taking part in the Eyes of the World campaign, we hope the urgency of the climate crisis and the demand for world leaders to take urgent action on vaccine fairness and debt cancellation​ will be heard.”