St Vincent de Paul Society

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.

When the SVP was started almost 200 years ago, poverty was very visible. Yet the traditional approach until then had been to provide facilities for those in need to come and ask for help before receiving any care on offer. The SVP was innovative in that it went out to people in need, visiting them in their own homes. This face-to-face help remains fundamental to the SVP ethos, to seek and find those who are forgotten. The support the Society brings offers practical help as well as friendship, comfort and love that springs from Jesus Christ. Since those days, poverty has changed, especially in the affluent West. However, perhaps we have been better at covering it up, rather than eradicating it. Nor is poverty all about the size of one’s finances. Is a moderate bank balance any protection against dementia or becoming housebound? Home care services are being squeezed, with care workers having to decide whether to dress someone or make their breakfast, as they do not have time to do both. As family mobility increases, many older people see little of their families, and as they grow older, their friends are less mobile so they have few visitors from one week to the next. Likewise, illness and bereavement are certainly not limited to those with little or no money. Nor is it just older people and those who are sick that can suffer poverty. Many parishes now have a significant number of migrants, be they refugees, asylum seekers or just people looking for a better place to bring up their family, as many of our ancestors did in earlier times. Many of them were not made welcome and had to suffer discrimination, so as a community we should know better and welcome new families into our community. The lack of being able to make ends meet imposes tensions within families, leading to addictions, marriage breakdown and health issues, often mental health.

The SVP group of the Catholic Parish of Belper and Duffield visits around fifteen people in a normal week.

The SVP extends its commitment internationally by its twinnage schemes with groups or conferences in this country writing to, praying for and providing small financial support to conferences in our twinned developing countries. (Ours is in Kerala, South India).

There are many ways in which we can respond, but if you feel you can help the SVP in any way to play your part in bringing love and care into our community, please discuss with us how you can help, be it by joining our Conference, providing financial help or by praying for the Society and all those it seeks to help. Your kind support is always greatly appreciated and we thank you for your generosity.