St Mary’s SVP
Who are we?
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 Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and his companions, and active in England and Wales since 1844. 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 knowledge of social well-being and of reform can be learned not from books, nor from the public platform, but in climbing the stairs to the poor person's garret, sitting by their bedside, feeling the same cold that pierces them, sharing the secrets of their lonely hearts and troubled minds.”
Blessed Frederic Ozanam - the Society's Founder
Visiting those in need and sitting side by side with them remains the core work of the St. Mary’s SVP Society. Regular visiting and personal care, with relationships based on trust and friendship are what gives the SVP its unique character. Many appreciate a friendly face and enjoy a chat over a cup of tea, knowing that someone cares. Support may extend to doing shopping, decorating, gardening, filling in official forms and ensuring they are receiving their statutory benefits.
Every year we host a lunch at St. Mary’s Rectory for our senior parishioners and the residents of the Almshouses. It is a highly enjoyable day both for our guests and the members of the St. Mary’s SVP which, weather permitting, usually extends into the Rectory Garden.
The aim of all that we do is to help those in need to be as independent as possible and to be happier as a result of the contact with the St. Mary’s SVP. Beneficiaries should be aware that they are valued and respected as individuals, secure in the knowledge that there is someone to whom they can turn for a helping hand or a sympathetic ear.
Making a difference
Another initiative is The Good Friends Café which is run and supported by St Mary's SVP members. It takes place on the second Saturday of every month (in the morning), serves to connect parishioners and enable members of the parish to get to know each other better. We also welcome anyone else, be it friends of parishioners or a stranger passing by. We customarily serve complimentary coffee, tea, cakes, patisserie and some savoury food such as eggs, salmon and sausages.
Every month, usually on a Thursday evening, members of the St. Mary’s SVP meet to walk the streets and provide succour to the homeless. In practice this means walking through a defined area of the Parish or nearby – wherever the need takes us – to distribute food, water, cleansing anti bacterial wipes, the much sought after sleeping bags and also our famous “Vinnie packs” which contain hats, gloves, 2 pairs of socks, toothpaste, toothbrush and a leaflet listing local help-centres.
The St. Mary’s SVP is a voluntary organisation which relies on the support of members and others who are able to give of their time. We very much welcome new volunteers and are extremely grateful for any time or services you may be able to give to us. If you would like to find out more please contact the parish office who will put you in touch with one of our members.
You can help us the SVP to continue its work by making a donation in the wall box marked SVP at the back of the church or you can enclose your donation in an envelope addressed to St Mary SVP and post it through the Rectory door in Draycott Terrace.