In the North we have been striving towards social justice so that every person can have the same opportunity to realise his or her potential in society, regardless of creed, political belief or background.
This is particularly important as, during the last four to five years, we have seen a 100% increase in demand for our services. We now provide more than 2,000 home visitations by 1,600 members per week; breakfast clubs and after-school clubs, Vincent’s community shops and a wide range of practical support for those in need.
Our Conferences have been active providing support and fellowship to their communities. Our strength in membership and our presence in every city, town, village and townland, allows us to identify those living in poverty throughout the year, across all communities.
Each Conference has been active in fundraising, with fashion shows, golf days, pensioner trips, and coffee mornings to name but a few successful events. We also have committed supporters, who, along with our volunteers, are the lifeblood of our charity. One such veteran fundraiser is Des Keenan, who undertook a ‘cooker-push’ through 20 towns across Northern Ireland - no mean feat for a man turning 70 this year! SVP supported him on his route and we are very grateful for his dedication.
As an organisation, we are delighted to be chosen by the Deputy Lord Mayor, Maire Hendron of the Alliance Party, to be her charity of the year. This honour is in recognition of our on-going work and we have kindly been gifted the use of Belfast City Hall for our Christmas Charity Gala on November 29, which will be a major corporate fundraiser.
We have also been recognised through the National Citizenship Project (NCS) government initiative, which engages young people in social action projects. For their NCS project, two cross-community groups from Belfast have teamed up to make hampers for those in need in their communities, which will be distributed through SVP. We appreciate their commitment which is a great support for our work.
Through the BBC, we recently highlighted that the cost of going 'back to school' is putting increasing pressure on families. A basic regulation secondary or grammar school uniform and PE kit can be more than £200 STLG and we are finding more people are visiting our 28 shops seeking uniform items to help offset this major cost. We encourage families with unwanted uniform items, in addition to other clothing, bric-a-brac and homewares, to donate them to Vincent’s.
It is with sadness that we must announce the closure of Vincent’s in Dromore, Co. Down, which, due to difficult trading conditions, was unfortunately no longer viable. We would like to thank our loyal volunteers in Dromore and also our customers who supported us through the years. SVP will continue to work to benefit those in need in the area and local people can still donate unwanted items to SVP through our recycling bins in the town.
It is positive that the Government has recognised and is acting on the need for more social housing to meet increasing demand. This issue is one of the main concerns brought to us weekly – not only are families and individuals living in overcrowded accommodation but the shortage of social housing makes homelessness a real concern for many.
With the festive season approaching, we will undertake our annual Christmas activities and appeals to provide hampers, toys and financial support to those families who, whilst struggling to put gifts under a tree, are also having difficulties in putting food on the table, at what should be a joyous time.
With a far-reaching presence across Northern Ireland, our devoted volunteers work tirelessly to give people a hand-up to help them become free from poverty.
Anyone in need or those wishing to support our work, please contact our Regional Office on phone 028 02890 351561 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, in the first instance.