St Vincent de Paul Society is the Church’s best kept secret

St Vincent de Paul volunteers (Karen Callaway/Catholic New World)

This September the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) in England and Wales is rolling out an awareness campaign in parishes across the country to tell people about what they do, and who they exist to help.

Each week of September, the Society will be highlighting different situations of hardship and poverty experienced by its 80,000 beneficiaries.

Preceding the Synod of the Family in October and inspired by the traditional card game Happy Families, the SVP ‘Happy Families?’ campaign will draw attention to the plight of four families typical of the kind of person helped by SVP members.

Week one of the campaign will feature Miss Forgotten, an older lady living alone whom no one ever visits.

Posters will go up in churches showing Miss Forgotten alone at home, with a ticking clock for company as time slowly passes.

Miss Forgotten exemplifies many of the people who the SVP’s 10,000 members visit on a weekly basis, offering the hand of friendship and a listening ear.

The idea behind the campaign is threefold. Emphasis will vary according to the needs of the parish.

The SVP wants parishioners to become more aware of older people living in isolation who may be lonely and need company.

They can be referred to SVP Conferences for assistance.

The SVP also wants to recruit new members to help carry out the work of visiting and befriending.

For parishioners who can’t afford the time to volunteer but want to support the SVP, the campaign seeks to raise funds.

In addition to posters, there will be one lectern address during the month to inform parishioners of the work of the Society.

Communications Manager Bryan Allen says “the SVP is the Catholic Church’s best kept secret.”

“Our 10,000 members put Catholic Social Teaching into practice by carrying out the very Christian duty of helping the most vulnerable in society,” he added. “We want people to be aware of the needs in their parish, and of the work of the society in helping to alleviate those needs.”

Cardinal Vincent Nichols is SVP’s patron. He’s backed the campaign saying: “I value the SVP’s Awareness Month campaign, ‘Happy Families?’ since the challenges facing many families today are immense. The SVP provides an extended family in which we, as brothers and sisters in Christ, can respond to the many and varied problems being faced within our communities.”

Awareness Month runs throughout September.

To find out more, call Anita Boniface on 0207 703 3030 or email [email protected]