St Vincent de Paul Society – SVP
The St Vincent de Paul Society (or as it is often known – the SVP) is an international Christian voluntary organisation dedicated to tackling poverty and disadvantage by providing practical assistance to those in need – irrespective of ideology, faith, ethnicity, age or gender.
The Society is a lay organisation initially formed in Paris in 1833 by Frederic Ozanam and his companions and active in England & Wales since 1844. Placed under the Patronage of St Vincent de Paul, it is inspired by his thinking and works. It seeks, in the spirit of justice and charity, to help those who are suffering poverty in whatever form.
The aim of the St Vincent de Paul Society is the same today as it was at its conception in the 19th Century: to tackle poverty in all its forms through the provision of practical assistance to those in need.
The concept of need is broader than financial hardship, so visiting the sick, the lonely, the addicted, the imprisoned and those suffering from disabilities form a large proportion of the Society’s work.
The Society operates in small groups called “Conferences”, which are often based in local parishes or schools. They meet regularly to review their work as well as allocating future work in a spirit of prayer and mutual support. The work of a Conference is usually concentrated on local visiting.
St Augustine’s has a Conference with 6 members, who raise funds through the year by holding Church collections and selling the Northern Cross newspaper (we receive 20p for each copy sold). We also receive donations from individuals. Over a year we usually raise in the order of £1,200.
We give a proportion of the money to the national organisation (20%) and local council (10% – ours is Tyne Council based on the Hexham & Newcastle Diocese). This money supports development of a number of “Community Support Projects/Special Works” include furniture stores, support centres, providing accommodation to vulnerable people, disability projects, soup runs, children’s camps and also the development of Youth SVP groups.
Tyne Council has a caravan in Northumberland to which we have sent a Darlington family for a week’s holiday last year and this year.
We donate £100 a year to a ‘twinned’ Conference, ours is in India where the local SVP members use the money for support of the poor in their area.
Locally over the last year we have assisted families and individuals in purchasing second hand bedroom furniture and kitchen goods. An emergency fund has been organised with Darlington Credit Union to help people before they can start saving. We have also provided for people in need who have called at the Presbytery.
We support the Catholic Chaplain (Fr. Patrick Cope of Middlesbrough Diocese) at the Young Offenders Institute at Deerbolt, Barnard Castle by purchasing small gifts of sweets at Christmas and Easter and funding rosaries and prayers cards for the lads.
Each Christmas we distribute small gifts, monies and food parcels to a number of people through the parish.
We visit and bring Holy Communion to people in Ventress / Stanton and Elderwood Care Homes as well as housebound people in their own homes.
Once or twice a year we organise a ‘Healing Mass’ in the Parish Centre where people receive the ‘Sacrament of the Sick’. The Mass is open to everyone and whilst the informal setting allows easy access for people with illnesses, the Sacrament is given to all, helping to heal whether troubled in mind or body. The Mass is followed by tea and cakes which gives people a nice occasion to meet socially.
At present we are getting involved with the other town centre churches who are trying to start a Debt Support service where people can receive mentoring help in getting to grips with their money difficulties.
We would welcome new members to help in any way possible in furthering our basic principles of providing practical help to those in need based on the Christian principles of faith, hope and charity.
If you are interested, meetings are held on monthly basis and are notified in the Parish Bulletin or please leave your name with Barbara in the Parish Office.
For more on the SVP Society you can visit the website www.svp.org.uk
National recognition for the work of the SVP (St. Vincent de Paul Society)
We are delighted to announce that the Prime Minister, David Cameron, has recognised the SVP with a Big Society Award. He said: “The St Vincent de Paul Society turns concern into action. The Society’s incredible number of volunteers build on a 200 year history of lending a practical hand to support those in need.
“I’m delighted to recognise all 10,000 St Vincent de Paul volunteers, and the staff who support them to do their vital work, with this Big Society Award.”
This Award is recognition for each of our members and volunteers who work tirelessly for those in need in their local communities. The concept of the ‘big society’ is nothing new for us, we have been doing it for nearly 200 years, and will continue to do so without regard to what government is in power, but are grateful for this formal recognition.
The award will only be considered successful if it attracts more members, more funding or helps us to be taken more seriously when we speak on behalf of those living in poverty. It should allow us to be more effective in our vocation to preach the Good News, using St Francis of Assisi’s phrase “if necessary using words”.
If you would like to find out more about the SVP and become involved in its work please contact Barbara in the parish office and she will be able to put you in touch. Also look out for details of our monthly meetings (usually on the 3rd Tuesday at 6.45 in the Presbytery) in the bulletin.