With the General Election fast approaching, CAFOD and the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) have come together to produce resources to help Catholics and their parishes reach out to local candidates to find out more about their views on some of the issues that we, as people of faith, care about.

As our Bishops’ Conference have just reminded us, we have a responsibility as Catholics to make sure political parties commit to taking action to tackle poverty and injustice. Raising our voices and contacting parliamentary candidates as a parish community will send a strong signal to those standing for election in our local constituencies.

There is a guide which suggests three main ways to engage with candidates: contacting them by email as a parish group, by attending a husting and by being ready to ask questions if candidates knock on your door.

There are eight suggested issues to raise, in terms of their impact on vulnerable and marginalised people, including the cost-of-living crisis, the global food system, climate change and migration.

This is not about political affiliations, but rather about strengthening community participation as a local faith group and practising the culture of encounter that Pope Francis talks about.

As Christians we have a long tradition of being actively involved in the big issues of our time. From Catherine of Siena to Oscar Romero, the lives of many saints show us that the greater their devotion to the Lord, the deeper their commitment to addressing the social problems of their time.

As the Bishops of England and Wales have recently said, “This is not just about leaders, it is about us. We are not merely the passive recipients of politics but active citizens. An election is the best time for us as Christians to speak out, to get involved, and to lead.”

There’s not much time! The more of us raise these issues, the more that the voices and experiences of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters will be heard.  For resources and more information see cafod.org.uk/encounter and svp.org.uk/encounter