How would describe your personal religious or other beliefs/identity?
What made you decide to retain or choose this faith?
It is the faith I grew up with, I am very open to other faiths. I suppose I just started thinking more deeply about things about the age of 15 when I had the opportunity to go for Confirmation when my mum asked me if I wanted to do this. God is an important part of my life, I don’t know what I would do with Him really. But I like Ecumenical things as well. A few years ago I spent the summer in a place called Iona with the Iona community. I was a volunteer and I was the only Catholic there, there were a lot of Presbyterians and Anglicans and Baptists, and all sorts and I really enjoyed that but I realised that it is nice to have a base. I am a Catholic. I love the fact that you can go to Mass anywhere in the world, I have been to Denmark and Belgium and Canada, I feel part of a big family and that is why I stick with it.
Do you think that Great Britain is an equal and tolerant society, especially in relation to religion and belief?
I think that compared with a lot of countries we are very tolerant, as there is a big mix. I live in an area which is mostly Muslim so you kind of accept that. Back home it was different, I had a Sikh friend and being a Sikh was unusual. Obviously everyone understands that other countries are not the same, you here about Christians in Iraq and stuff. But I think that religion is quite well accepted here.
Are there any challenges for you in living as a Roman Catholic in this country?
I don’t think so, a lot of my friends aren’t Catholic but they understand. I have nice friends. People ask about it if they are interested, they say that I don’t believe that but I accept that you do and that is fine.
How as Roman Catholicism contributed to the world’s understanding of human rights?
Yes, maybe more Christianity as a whole. It is well known that Christians believe that human beings should have rights. People say to me you are a Christian that must mean that you are nice. Jesus’ teaching is on that path. There are things like gay rights that some people are a bit iffy about, there is a bit of disparity there. There are some Christian charities which fight for human rights, so Christianity is important there.
Can you think of any way in which the Catholic Church has a practical influence on human rights in this country?
In small senses, I am currently president of the St Vincent de Paul society, we work with the homeless, and with older people and children……we believe that everyone should have these rights. We chat to homeless people, give them food and chat to them because we believe that they are equal members of society. So we do contribute, but not in a big way as we are not the main religion of this country.
What do you think about faith schools?
I’m not a great fan of faith schools…..in my church at home there was a youth group, half of us when to faith schools and half of us didn’t. I didn’t. The ones who went to faith schools kind of drifted away, I’m not sure why but maybe it was pushed on them too much. I think that we should all be together. The same with private schools, I am against private schools too. But then not having had any experience I don’t know what being in a faith school would be like.
Should parents be free to educate their children however they choose, even if this means keeping them away from wider society or ignorant of matters about which their parents disagree?
Yes…..I think up to a certain age, even if you get brought up with certain views you are bound to find out about other things and if you want to change your mind you can. It’s hard isn’t it? I can’t imagine ever saying to a child that they had no right to no, but I suppose some people do. You can’t really say no to a parent if they want to take their child out of sex education or whatever, but I personally think that children should be exposed to all views and then make their own decision.
Should religious individuals running businesses be allowed to discriminate in their treatment of employees and customers? For instance, should hotels be allowed to restrict double rooms to married heterosexual couples?
I don’t think so, no.
Do you think that living in a democracy is a good thing?
Everyone gets a view. You should hopefully end up with a government that the majority of people want.
Do you believe that you have a personal responsibility to vote?
And you are familiar with what the Catholic Church says about the role of Catholics in social life?
Yeah, yeah, I suppose I feel that it is a kind of duty to weigh up what each party views are. I suppose my religion could influence that depending on manifestos and things.
Are you concerned that the House of Lords is not elected? Is that a problem?
Yes, I would like to see it elected, it is a bit unfair, and why should some people get more power, even if only one person wants them.
Do you think that it is appropriate that there are Church of England bishops in the House of Lords?
I feel more represented by the bishops than people like Alan Sugar, he’s in the House of Lords isn’t he? I think it is good that they are there.
Would you like to see Catholics and Jews and Muslims there?
That would be ideal, but quite difficult. I don’t have a big problem with other Christians there, I think that generally Christian views are the same way.
Parliament has the final say in making and changing law, is this appropriate in your view?
I suppose, lawyers know more about the law, than some politicians, so it would be good to have their say as well. I don’t know.
Is it good or bad that we are a member of the EU and have devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland?
I love the EU. I don’t know the technicalities, but we don’t need any more borders in the world. I like unity, I feel part of something bigger than the UK. I think it is good that we help poorer countries as a richer country in the EU, and it is easy to move between countries, I don’t really like borders.
So how do you feel about the Welsh Parliament?
I think it is nice that Wales gets to make some decisions for Wales. It’s not so good for England, half of my family are English and we don’t have anything like that. I wouldn’t want Wales to be independent but it’s nice to have local decisions.
How should society treat people exercising power? What responsibility do people with power have?
Don’t let power get to your head, often at Mass in the bidding prayers we pray for those in power, they have a lot of responsibility and they need our help and can’t do it on their own. There needs people in charge otherwise there would be chaos.
What responsibility do all members of society owe to everyone else?
Respect, as a human being. As I say, I am in charge of the SVP society and respect for all humans is our big commitment. If people are in a bad place, it is my duty to help them.
How well do you think leaders in society reflect the composition of our society?
I gather that they are mostly white men, which isn’t very representative of the country as a whole. I think that we should try and change it. A lot of them are privately educated, come from quite well off backgrounds, don’t really understand the poverty of others. People from a poor background will understand more of what needs to be done. I think that education is important, the rich parents have children who go to private schools, they have the best facilities and chances and they become rich and send their children to private schools. Everyone should have the same beginnings in life.
Have you ever tried to take action on a social or political issue you have felt strongly about?
Homelessness is a big thing for me. Recently, a lot of hostels have been closing down and they have nowhere to go, and I’d like to change that.
I chose my degree in speech therapy because I volunteered for HCPT, another Catholic group that takes children from disadvantaged backgrounds and disabilities out to Lourdes for a week. I worked with a speech therapist then. That was an amazing week, some of the children came from really deprived backgrounds and it was nice to give them a holiday and something to look forward to.
Do you think that public bodies have a good understanding of the needs of Roman Catholics?
Are there some groups who find it harder to access services from the public sector?
I think that disability is a big thing. Often overlooked. Some teachers don’t understand the needs of certain people with disabilities. My last placement was in a school for people with severe learning disabilities, so they understood. But some people there had come from general state schools and they hadn’t got so much help.
Do you feel that Catholics are well represented in Parliament and elsewhere in public life?
Not sure. I’m not sure how many Catholics there are, probably not very many.
Is it important for you always to act within State law?
I’ve never been in a situation where there was a moral imperative to break the law, but if I felt that following the law was going against my beliefs I wouldn’t. My sister is a doctor and we were talking about euthanasia and we were talking about how we couldn’t help with that. But at the moment there aren’t really any laws that I completely go against.
Do you feel that you have a moral duty to speak out for others who cannot speak for themselves?
Yes, everyone. It is good to speak out for everyone who needs it.
Do you think that generally speaking in the UK the police and the courts treat citizens equally regardless of their background?
When I go out on the streets, you see that homeless people aren’t treated greatly with respect by the police. I have seen police say you have got to move on, and they asked where and are told they don’t care. That is really not very helpful. I’m not sure who gives the police orders to move on homeless people or whether it is them being bossy, but I think that homeless people are seen as a lower class of human, not just by police but by passers-by. How you look is possibly a big factor even though it shouldn’t be.
Is it a good thing that police are sometimes allowed to suspend some of the rules protecting our freedoms and privacy? Usually in connection with terrorism?
I think that it is okay to bend the rules sometimes, but it depends on the extent. Sometimes rules can be too much. Sometimes people’s own opinions should be worth more than the rules.
Are there any legal rules which you find restrictive?
I like going for walks, Scotland has a free roaming thing, the rest of the country doesn’t and that is a shame. Land should be shared….I don’t like people owning land.
Is there anything which you would like to add?
Jenny is originally from the South Wales Valleys, and studied Speech & Language Therapist (SLT) a the University of Manchester. Her Catholic faith is important to her and over her time at university she was heavily involved in the Catholic Chaplaincy. This has meant that she was active in charitable works, organisation of the liturgy and participation in many social events with other Catholic students! In her spare time she enjoys walking, exploring new places and learning new languages.