The Catholic charity inspiring people to find a new direction and help others

Refugees learning English in an ESOL class

Sometimes God calls us to make a dramatic change in our lives such as switching career. Volunteering with the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) community support projects has helped many people find a new direction in life, leading them to a new vocation.

SVP volunteer Lorraine lost her job as a waitress of 16 years before being diagnosed with arthritis. Her condition meant that she could no longer stand for long periods, so needed to change careers. The SVP Blackfriars Centre in Newcastle provided a place where Lorraine could gain experience as a receptionist and administrator to help her enter a new area of work that could fit around her medical condition. Lorraine says: “Volunteering for the SVP has helped my confidence to go out and talk to other people and mix with other people. I’d been out of work for seven years and I had lost my confidence. I could have sat around and said I can’t do this, but volunteering has given me a reason to come back out and enter the work environment.”

Volunteering also helped Anthony change careers. An accountant for the NHS, Anthony decided that at age 49 he wanted to become a teacher of English as a Second Language (ESOL). He felt volunteering would be a useful way to ‘try out’ teaching before he committed to paying for a training course, but none of the organisations he approached would accept him as a volunteer without a formal qualification.

St Vincent’s in Leeds, however, was different. They invited Anthony in to have a chat and do an assessment to assess his skills in the classroom. It allowed Anthony to break into ESOL teaching, giving him hands on experience, giving him a good taster of what it would be like as a career, and equipping him well for his career change.

Since completing ESOL Training, Anthony has done two short term assignments in Spain as well as a number of UK based assignments. He says: “The open mindedness and flexibility of the SVP shows its kindness as an organisation. Whereas I had experienced several rejections for not having a formal qualification, the SVP showed an open and welcoming attitude of sit down and talk to us. They also provided me with excellent support and I never felt like I was on my own as a new teacher.”

Anthony says the SVP’s Christian ethos of kindness runs throughout his experiences, and he still gains great enjoyment from volunteering with them in Leeds.

Lorraine and Anthony are just a two of the people who have experienced the benefits of volunteering for the SVP community support projects. Helping people in need in their local community is enriching and rewarding and helps build lives.

There are also 8000 volunteer members of the SVP in local parish groups. They help others by providing friendship and support to people experiencing poverty, isolation and loneliness.

To volunteer with an SVP project, or to become a member of your local SVP parish group, visit, email [email protected] or telephone 020 7703 3030.