National Member Support Development Officer
A great opportunity to hear how other Areas work. It is very important that feedback on the day is distributed to the areas, so that local Conferences can hear what this national council is all about.
In mid-September the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul met in Mount St. Anne’s Retreat and Conference Centre in Killenard, Co. Laois. The National Council is the representative body of the Society, and is made up of our National President, the Presidents of Regional and Area Councils and other members nominated by the National President. The theme for this year’s National Council was ‘SVP Reaching Out – Seek and find those who are forgotten’. Here are the highlights along with some of the feedback received.
Kept me engaged for the whole day – am now ‘raring to go’ back to area and Conference
The key ingredients for SVP to assist people are our ethos, our volunteers and our financial resources from both the public and the State. The early sessions of the day were therefore dedicated to reflecting on the nature of SVP assistance and the difference it can make, informing the National Council of the strides SVP is making to streamline our recruitment and training processes for potential volunteers and concluding with an update on the nature of our financial resources.
‘Behind every good workshop is a strong cup of coffee’it may be said, but our coffee and tea break also gave us the opportunity to catch up with old friends, share ideas and reflect on the mornings session. Soon after, regional workshop groups discussed the themes of responding to need, member/volunteer supports, recruitment and member development, training & leadership. Volunteer facilitators helped the different regional workshop groups’ focus on achievable goals for the near future, which were then fed back by each of the 8 Regional Presidents at a plenary session. From this National Council Regional Councils will now prepare their own ‘Reaching Out’ plans with a focus on action and achievement.
Following the workshop feedback National President, Kieran Stafford, outlined some new initiatives that SVP will undertake in the coming months. These include a National Reaching Out Steering Group to maintain the momentum of the workshops and future regional discussions. Kieran announced a National Education Committee, which will assist and advise on the development of education bursaries and a National Rural Committee to provide support to Conferences dealing with social isolation in hard to reach communities.
The keynote speaker was excellent and if we followed his spirit we can make a difference.
The keynote speaker was Brian Cody, Kilkenny hurling manager since 1998. Brian imbued the room with his sense of team spirit and the importance of playing to your strengths and recognising the strengths of others. He gave examples and insights into how the great must always aim to achieve better and yet that defeat, while hard, should be the ultimate challenge to complacency. Was their room in Brian’s team for personalities and personal challenges? An emphatic yes, but when decisions have to be made, they must be made, by the leader.
It was left then to Rose McGowan, National Vice-President, to reflect on the highlights of the day, be that Reaching Out or new committees; recruitment & training, financial clarity or simply questions & answers. Brian Cody, she reiterated, reinforced the role of leadership and the National Council is the leadership of SVP. As the Society’s leaders, she said, it is we who have with the important role of supporting volunteers who are ultimately the members who reach out to find those who are forgotten in the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul.