The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) has been named as a recipient of Prime Minister David Cameron's Big Society award for their work across England and Wales.
For nearly two hundred years the SVP has been
caring for people who are lonely or in need of practical assistance.
SVP has always had a ‘one-to-one’ approach, utilising the energy and
commitment of 10,000 volunteers across England and Wales.
On hearing the news, Cardinal-elect Vincent Nichols said: “I was
delighted to hear that the St Vincent de Paul Society has won a Big
Society Award. For nearly two hundred years members of the SVP have been
faithfully giving powerful practical expression to Pope Francis’ desire
for the Church to be a Church for the poor.”
Last year the Pope said: “Let them not be afraid to reach out with
affection and tenderness towards the poorest, the weakest, the smallest,
by showing how God loves them and by teaching them to read the signs of
his love in their lives and by working for greater justice throughout
the world, in the light of the Church's social teaching.”
Inspired by God’s love, SVP members turn their concern into real
action by befriending individuals, giving both emotional and practical
support, such as food parcels, clothes and furniture. In 2013 volunteers
made over half a million visits to nearly 90,000 individuals and
families across England and Wales.
These visits were made to the
housebound, older people, hospitals, residential care homes, travellers,
the homeless, refugees and people with mental health disorders,
regardless of race, colour, religious belief, ideology or gender.
Adrian Abel, National President of the SVP, said: "It is so
appropriate that this award has come in the bicentenary year of our
founder's birth. The award recognises the work of our 10,000 volunteers
who give around one million hours of voluntary service, by befriending
people with needs in our community.
"The SVP provides practical opportunities for people to turn their
concern into action, truly a Society with a big heart." The SVP was
founded by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, who said: 'I want to embrace the
world in a network of charity'.
Today, in addition to visiting and
befriending, the SVP organises volunteering groups in schools and
universities, provides debt advice at its support centres and runs over
40 shops in economically disadvantaged areas. These projects, alongside
the parish-based groups, provide opportunities for everyone to become
involved no matter what their gifts or interests may be. The SVP is
currently recruiting for new members throughout the country.
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “The St Vincent de Paul Society
turns concern into action. The Society’s incredible number of volunteers
build on a 200 year history of lending a practical hand to support
those in need. I’m delighted to recognise all 10,000 St Vincent de Paul
volunteers, and the staff who support them to do their vital work, with
this Big Society Award.”
Congratulating the SVP, Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive of the Caritas
Social Action Network commented: “I am delighted that the dedication
and hard work of the SVP and its members has been recognised in this
way. Through its work befriending vulnerable individuals as well as
providing food parcels, clothes and furniture, SVP provides not only
practical assistance but also emotional support to those in need.
Working, humbly across the country SVP members and volunteers are at the
forefront of efforts to tackle poverty and disadvantage in our
communities. I hope this award will inspire more people to join the SVP
and get involved in this excellent work”.
For more information see: http://www.svp.org.uk