Friday, January 24, 2014

SVP wins Big Society award

SVP wins Big Society award | SVP, Helen O’Brien, Saint Vincent de Paul Society, David Cameron, Big Society Award, Cardinal-elect  Vincent NicholsThe 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. 

The 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”.

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