Lord Blunkett and the Bishop of Hallam lead tributes to Ralph Dickins, a charity fundraiser, who raised over £1 million for vulnerable people and is retiring from St Vincent de Paul’s Furniture Store in Sheffield.
Since 2003, Dickins, now 81, has been a part-time fundraiser at the store which collects and redistributes furniture and and household items to the vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Speaking about the importance of St Vincent’s work, he notes: “Many of the people we support have been moved into accommodation with absolutely nothing. They come from all sorts of backgrounds and situations. We give them the essentials which make a house a home, and from there they can begin the process of getting their lives back together. It’s a privilege to be part of their journey.”
Joining the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) at the age of 30, he has been a dedicated volunteer for over 50 years. Following the sale of his family’s printing business in the city, he wanted to put his local knowledge and business know-how to good use. He turned his mind to fundraising and honed his skills at lectures by South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau.
Joining the SVP was a family tradition, Dickins explained.
“My father and brother were also members at Our Lady and St Thomas SVP Conference in Hallam. SVP members change the lives of others by doing the little things very well. We give people what they need to change their lives for the better. Sometimes it’s friendship, at other times it might be a food parcel or household essentials. Whatever we do, we do it with compassion and without judgement,” he says.
Bishop of Hallam, Ralph Heskett and former Blair cabinet minister Lord Blunkett praised him for his selfless dedication.
“The city of Sheffield owes Ralph Dickins a deep debt of gratitude fro his decades of tireless work supporting anyone in need,” said the former Blair cabinet minister.
“He has selflessly given his time and skills to raise money for St Vincent’s Sheffield, and in doing so he has helped thousands of people to live a better life and regain their identity.”