The past few years have been a challenge for volunteer-based organisations, including for St Vincent de Paul (SVP).
While the organisation has been overwhelmed with the generosity and financial support of the public over the past three years, the number of SVP volunteers has dropped significantly since the pandemic.
The society has volunteer roles in IT, finance, fundraising, housing, and education, just to name a few.
Alan Collins, one of the members who helped to organise the open recruitment meeting that will take place next week in Cork, said: “Visitation is at the cornerstone of our work. We visit people in the dignity and safety of their own homes and listen to see how we can help them through whatever crisis they are facing.”
Kate Durrant volunteers within the food conference, which supported over 2,500 families last Christmas and supports up to 800 people each week who are struggling with food poverty.
Ms Durrant said:
“It’s heartbreaking, seeing people struggle, but I cannot describe the satisfaction of being able to ease that load a little, knowing that children are going to bed with full stomachs and that breakfast will be there for them when they wake up.”
Rose Adair, who organises training for new volunteers, said: “Education is another area where SVP makes a huge difference, enabling young people to stay in school and continue their education by providing financial and pastoral support, and practical help, too, such as travel tickets.
“We forget that sometimes it’s the very basics, like not having the bus fare, that can cause someone to fall through the cracks.”
SVP helps in a variety of ways and within the organisation there is an opportunity for everyone who would like to volunteer to put their talents and experience to good use.
Within the greater Cork area, calls for assistance to the regional office during the last 12 months increased by 20%, to 16,500, and SVP volunteers looked after 1,400 families every month, and 5,000 families in the pre-Christmas period. To find out more about how you can help SVP, there is an open evening at the Aula Maxima, University College Cork, on Monday, January 30, from 7.30pm.
Volunteers only need empathy, an open mind, and an open heart. Training will be given for everything else.
Alternatively, contact SVP membership officer, Ellmarie Spillane, on 021 4270444/086-1837273, or email Ellmarie.firstname.lastname@example.org.