Kieran Stafford from Clonmel in County Tipperary has been elected National President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP), the largest charity in Ireland.
Mr. Stafford (53), a local businessman and father of two, has been a volunteer with SVP for the past 16 years.
During that time he has been Vice-President, a national trustee and a Regional President. He succeeds Geoff Meagher from Kilkenny who has served as SVP National President for the past five years.
In keeping with the tradition of previous SVP National Presidents, Mr. Stafford will also remain active in his local SVP Conference (unit) in Clonmel.
“It is important to work in the community to have a solid understanding of the issues that impact on the people helped by SVP,” he said.
“Despite the welcome economic improvements of recent times, we remain an unequal nation. SVP continues to receive an unacceptable level of calls for support from families struggling to find affordable secure accommodation, employment opportunities that provide an adequate income, along with support for meeting education, health, energy and childcare costs,” said Mr. Stafford
In 2016 SVP received 130,000 calls for assistance and its 11,000 members made approximately 8,000 home visitations per week. “We consistently require new volunteers to ensure we can respond to these requests for help,” said Mr. Stafford.
“My main objectives in the coming years will be to continue to focus SVP as a strong and vibrant voice at national level and within local communities for those who struggle in so many ways, and to help people over both the financial and emotional hurdles and back to self-sufficiency.
“It is part of our Vincentian ethos to advocate on behalf of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in Irish society. SVP is committed to identifying the root causes of poverty and social exclusion in Ireland and advocate and work for the changes required to create a more just and caring society. The current challenges in relation to homelessness, child poverty and educational disadvantage, mean working for social justice is as important today as it was when the Society was established in 1844.
"Informed by the work of our volunteers, we will continue to work with Government and policy makers to ensure that everyone has a good standard of living and the opportunity to reach their full potential,” he said.