The South East regional council held a members day on Saturday the 7th September 2019. The gathering of members was held in the Newpark hotel Kilkenny with members travelling from all five counties in the region including Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois, Waterford and Wexford. The day commenced with mass setting time to reflect on the work of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and the theme “Ensure sufficient time is spent with those we serve to listen carefully to their needs” was touched on throughout the day. Mass was celebrated by Fr. Billy Meehan PP, St Marys Parish, Clonmel, co Tipperary. Fr Billy in his homily encouraged the members to keep focusing on the vision of Fredric Ozanam in helping those most in need.
Regional President Ben Doyle gave an opening address and stated the day was centred to supporting members and in particular to the recent launch of the reaching out programme, the reaching out programme is designed to equip members and provide them with the necessary supports and enable them to respond to all requests from people in need and reaching out to those who have not previously sought assistance from the Society.
Throughout the day a number of speakers addressed the members, Martin Hourigan from the Samaritans spoke on how to be effective listeners and conducted a practical exercise to highlight how we as individuals listen to people. The exercise was useful in that as individuals not all listen to detail in the same way. Debbie O Halloran SE Region youth development officer briefed the members on the SVP Young programme and Rev. Alec Purser show cased the Twinning programme in Africa and detailed in how local conferences support those in need through the International Society of Saint Vincent De Paul in the Gambia and Tanzania.
Brian Cody, Irelands longest serving senior hurling manager addressed the membership and linked in his speech how as members following the vison of SVP and aiming for the goal similar to the Kilkenny hurling team setting out to win brings success and that win and success is helping people in need.
In the afternoon Jim Walsh PR briefed the membership in public relations and how best to work with the press either nationally or locally. Michael Higgins National membership support manager spoke about the challenges the Society faces and gave the key priorities of the reaching out programme over the coming year to responding to need, providing member and volunteer support, developing membership and bettering leadership and member support structures.
In his closing address Kieran Stafford National president spoke about in recent times about a family who was in need and was scared to reach out, the story was bitter sweet. A mum wrote to the Society stating a number of bills arrived in the post, including car insurance, car tax, electricity bill including the mortgage was due. In the very same day her son began to walk and the mum was stressed out wondering where she was going to find the money to buy shoes for her son, in reality the mum should have been rejoicing in her sons first steps. Kieran encouraged the membership to continue their walk and to reaching out to those who are in need and most vulnerable in Society.