It is hard to believe that the last edition of the SVP Bulletin magazine was Spring 2020, and it was also the first time we ever just produced an online-only version. In that edition, we highlighted the fantastic support we had received for our 2019 Annual Appeal. It seems like such a very long time ago now, and so much has happened since.
The Society had its first-ever “Urgent Appeal”, and the response and support we received was truly amazing. SVP was selected as the chosen charity for the final episode of The Late Late Show for the season during this appeal. That night many of us held our breathe in amazement as we saw donations flood in. The volume was so huge our website crashed, but only for a few minutes! So we can say it was a stressful yet awe-inspiring night, where the public donated over €1 million to the organisation. This, I believe, is a true testament to how the people of Ireland view SVP.
So much transpired during those months. We had to change how we usually operated our core Home Visitation work and assist people due to the restrictions. Many of our volunteers had to take a step back and look after themselves or their loved ones. We had a new National President take up the torch, Rose McGowan, and we are sure this was hugely challenging for her as she started her new role.
Our members, volunteers and staff adapted to a new way of operating and working, stepping up where they could. “Virtual Area gatherings” became a new thing and one which seems to have become a great success, allowing our members to reach out and connect with each other and continue our SVP work during these challenging times. On occasions, it brought moments of laughter as we continually heard the saying “You’re on mute”!
I can vouch for the tremendous work I witnessed among all my colleagues, going above and beyond what was asked of them.
As we started to come out of lockdown, we wanted to recognise our members, volunteers and staff’s challenges and highlight the resilience and hope we heard from around the country, so a “Beyond Covid” video was created to capture just a flavour of those stories.
Our Vincent’s Shops went through a period of closing and opening as we jumped from one restriction level to another, like some game of hopscotch, never quite knowing what the future would hold. This was no game, however, and it not only took a financial toll on the organisation but an emotional one for all our volunteers and staff. But retail did not let that keep them down. You will read how they adapted and pivoted and their plans for the future.
Church Door collections stopped in most places, and we offered Conferences the opportunity to create their own fundraising pages on the SVP website, which were a huge success. We will be recommending these again this year, and we have outlined the steps involved for this coming Annual Appeal in the magazine.
You will read all about the challenges our Young SVP program faced and how all these young people, with the support and guidance of our Youth Development team, adapted and stepped up to the mark.
I am hoping from reading this summer 2021 edition; you will see just how truly inspiring and resilient SVP is because of the amazing people/family in it. There were definitely a series of new words that were added to our vocabulary such as ‘cocooning’, ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘stay home, stay safe’ that I hope we might be able to leave in the past, like a story we will tell our great-grandchildren in years to come.