St Robert’s SVP Conference.
The aim of the St Vincent de Paul Society is the same today as it was at its conception in the 19th Century: to tackle poverty in all its forms by providing practical assistance to those in need.
The Society operates in small groups, called “Conferences”, based on local parishes. The Morpeth Conference meets fortnightly on a Wednesday night in the Church Hall. Currently we have approximately 8 active members. On a monthly basis all ‘conferences’ from the Tyne Central Council meet in various Church properties in the area to discuss and share the good works of the SVP and to keep abreast of local and national initiatives.
The work of a Conference usually concentrates on local visiting. Visiting those in need and sitting side by side with them remains the core work of the Society. Regular visiting and personal care, with relationships based on trust and friendship are what gives the SVP its unique character.
Visits are made to individuals and families, to the sick at home or in hospitals and hospices, to residential homes and to offender institutes. Loneliness, especially among the elderly is growing, so members spend a lot of time visiting housebound people to prevent them from feeling isolated. Many appreciate a friendly face and enjoy a chat over a cup of tea, knowing that someone cares. Support may extend to doing shopping, decorating, gardening, filling in official forms and ensuring they are receiving their statutory benefits.
Over the years, the SVP has responded to social changes, providing a range of additional services depending on the need. Today, these ‘Special Works’ include furniture stores, support centres, providing accommodation to vulnerable people, disability projects, soup runs, children’s camps and various holiday schemes amongst other things. The most recent initiative is the creation of Community Shops providing resources and employment in areas of deprivation.
Internationally, groups in the developing world are ‘Twinned’ with groups in more affluent countries, supporting each other with correspondence and mutual prayer. Financial support is also provided in the form of regular contributions, student sponsorship, specific projects and a “disaster fund” to help the local Society cope with disasters in their own country. The Morpeth Conference is twinned with St Thomas Conference, Kanyakumari District India.