Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster has teamed up with the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) to help people on the streets struggling to keep warm this winter.
With the number of people
experiencing homelessness growing year on year, the Cardinal is backing
the distribution of 12,000 Vinnie Packs to provide a practical way the
public can help the homeless keep warm.
Each Pack contains essential items including thermal hat, socks,
gloves, toothbrush and toothpaste and information sheet with advice on
where to get more support.
Cardinal Nichols said: "Vinnie Packs are a practical way of showing
care and concern for homeless people in our midst. Every time we extend a
helping hand to those who are most profoundly in need, we share with
them the embrace of God's mercy.'
The idea for the packs was suggested by SVP member, Siobhan Garibaldi
and Catholic journalist, Jo Siedlecka. Siobhan introduced the
initiative to the SVP who organised the logistics and provide some
funding together with the public.
Siobhan says: "We want every penny to go on the packs. The project
has no administration or staff costs, no office and the storage and
packing area is provided us free of charge by the Diocese of
While the project is coordinated by the SVP and its members, it has
attracted a large amount of vital support from other organisations
including the Diocese of Westminster.
Mosques, Christian churches of other denominations, charities and
even Community Support Officers have all been involved, together with a
number of private companies such as Nationwide Building Society whose
staff spent four days making up 5,000 Vinnie Packs in the Autumn.
Two dedicated SVP members hired a van and delivered the packs up and
down the country over 48 hours. Siobhan says: "They took the packs up
one side of England and down the other, setting off at 7am, and
returning nearly two days later at 4 in the morning."
The packs are distributed in shopping centres, hostels, cold weather
shelters, church presbyteries and outreach teams. Members of the police
force have also been doing their bit to give out the packs in Hayes,
West London .
Siobhan says: "There are times in our lives when we all need help,
and to be offered something that hopefully will have some practical
benefits and help people feel valued and more loved is what the Vinnie
packs are really about. As a charity combating loneliness and material
poverty, the SVP's support, together with the Cardinal's backing will
hopefully inspire the sustainability of Vinnie Packs for the homeless
long into the future. "
To donate to Vinnie Packs text: VINP33 followed by the £[amount] to 70070, or donate online at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/svpvinniepacks
To read more about the SVP, visit http://www.svp.org.uk