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The largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) has helped people in need through a Famine, a Civil War, a War of Independence, two World Wars and several economic recessions since its founding in 1844.
With over 11,000 volunteers across Ireland, SVP’s focuses on a practical approach to dealing with poverty, alleviating its effects on individuals and families by working primarily in person-to-person contact. A unique system of family visitation and a friendly, personal touch is at the heart of their aim to achieve social justice and equality of opportunity for all citizens.
An international Christian organisation, the SVP Society has over 1.5 million volunteers worldwide, and helps 30 million people across the globe - over Christmas for example, they expect 50,000 families in Ireland alone to seek their help.
In addition to providing direct assistance to those in need, caring for the homeless, providing social housing, operating holiday homes and other social support activities, the Society promotes community self-sufficiency, enabling people to help themselves. Any assistance offered by the Society is given in a non-judgemental spirit, based on the needs of the individual or family seeking help, which is line with SVP’s caring ethos.
Their main area of work is person to person contact with people who need help and assistance - usually the elderly. They offer a “spirit of friendship”, and also some practical or financial assistance towards day to day essentials.
The SVP Society also believes that no one should ever have to sleep rough, under any circumstances, and that everyone has a right to a safe, secure and comfortable home. The Society currently provides services to over 300 people experiencing homelessness on a nightly basis, with a specialised centre for women and their children.
Rather than simply provide a ‘bed for the night’, the SVP allocate a Key-Worker to every individual, that helps people access appropriate specialist services so that they can get back on their feet as soon as possible in the coming days, weeks, and months of becoming homeless.
SVP Social housing is not-for-profit housing developed with the support of the Irish Government - there’s currently 1000 units of social housing throughout the country.
Approximately 800 of these units have been designated by Government as special needs housing, funded to provide housing for Older People (Over 55 years), people with a disability, or people who are currently homeless, while the other 200 are designated for single people and families.
Their resource centres, of which there are six nationwide, are a safe, welcoming place for people to learn and grow, to develop new skills, to meet others and make new friends and to have a positive impact in people's lives.
After-school clubs and homework clubs, child care facilities, education courses and training opportunities are all provided at the centres, as well as community Youth Programmes.
SVP runs six holiday centres to provide holiday breaks for individuals and families in various locations in Ireland, where both young and old can enjoy a break away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Their elderly people’s Daycare Centres provide cooked meals, social and recreational activities, self-care services such as showering and laundry facilities, while the SVP also encourage young students to get involved in positive social action through their SVP Youth Development Programme.
SVP is working make Ireland a place where caring for each other and our children, older people and people with disabilities is valued and supported; where individuals, families and communities can participate fully in work and society; and where an adequately resourced state, a strong economy, employment and business support the type of society that we wish to live in.
To put it simply, they are working to make Ireland a fairer place for every single citizen.