St Vincent de Paul NI appeals for more volunteers at Annual Meeting

    Almost £3m spent on relieving poverty in NI in 2013 with additional £3.25m worth of voluntary service provided by SVP NI members

    At the AGM of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Northern Ireland (SVP NI) in Cookstown last weekend, it was revealed that the charity’s volunteers provided a minimum of 515,000 hours of service during 2013, which is equivalent to a voluntary contribution to local communities worth at least £3.25m1 (if taken at 2013 hourly minimum wage). On top of that, the breakdown of how donations were distributed last year was also outlined, with almost £3m of direct assistance used to help families and individuals across NI including providing necessities such as food, fuel, electric and clothing.

    SVP, the largest charity in NI and entirely volunteer-led, is supported by a team of 1660 volunteers who work tirelessly, 365 days a year, to provide the wide-ranging services to all sections of the community.

    Aidan Crawford, Regional President of St. Vincent de Paul Northern Ireland, said: “Our priority is to help alleviate poverty in each and every community across Northern Ireland and we rely entirely on our volunteer members and on the generosity of the public to be able to deliver our vital services. The fact is that we are receiving more and more calls for help and it is a challenge to continue to meet this rising demand – without the commitment and service provided by our volunteers and the donations received from the public and the business community, it is frightening to think of the added pressure that would be put on Stormont’s budgets, which are already at breaking point.”

    He added: “Home visitation remains the cornerstone of our work and each week, our volunteers donate around 10,000 hours of service and make more than 2000 visits to those in need, who are disadvantaged and vulnerable and offer practical, material and moral support as well as friendship. Our approach is to ensure that those who haven’t been as fortunate in our society are able to maintain their self-respect and dignity and we give them a hand-up to help them become free from poverty.

    “Through our 183 groups (conferences) across Northern Ireland the Society works with those in need, irrespective of creed, ethnic or social backgrounds, health, gender or political opinions.  Our strength in membership and our presence in every city, town and village allows us to be best placed to identify concerns and help those living in poverty, across all communities, at a very local level.”

    SVP NI also runs crèches, breakfast and after-school clubs as well as senior citizens outings and manages 28 ‘Vincent’s’ charity shops. During the last five years demand for SVP’s services in Northern Ireland has doubled and in light of this, the charity is appealing for new volunteers to join them in helping local communities.

    Aidan appealed: “I would encourage anyone who is considering volunteering for a charity to look at our work and how they could fit into one of our active groups.  Our volunteers are the reason that we are able to respond to the hundreds of weekly calls for assistance that we receive from people in need.  Requests for help are increasing year on year and in 2013, calls were up almost 40% and we expect this to rise further throughout 2014; so if you feel that you could dedicate some time to help people in your community, please get in touch.”

    Anyone in need of assistance or those wishing to find out more about the work of SVP NI should contact the regional office on 028 9035 1561 or email info@svpni.co.uk.

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