The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) is seeking a million gestures of kindness to address the trail of poverty and loneliness left in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Its Awareness Month campaign runs throughout September and includes the feast days of SVP founder Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and the Society’s patron saint, St Vincent de Paul, on September 9 and 27 respectively. As part of the awareness campaign, the SVP is calling for parishioners in the Brentwood Diocese to become a member, volunteer a few hours of their time, or donate to support people in need.
In 2017, on September 27, the Feast of St Vincent de Paul, Pope Francis said that charity is central to the Church’s mission: “Charity is at the heart of the Church, it is the reason for its action, the soul of its mission.”
SVP president Helen O’Shea says: “Acts of compassion and kindness don’t always have to be grand; more often they are seemingly insignificant, something most people would view as ‘ordinary’; a chat with a housebound older person, picking up some shopping or medication for a neighbour, sending a card, or even telephoning someone just to say ‘hello’. It’s through a million gestures of kindness like these that we can start to address the enormity of the mountain we must all climb.”
Awareness Month celebrates the extraordinary work of SVP members and volunteers over the past 18 months who have turned their concern into action in their communities.
During September, the SVP’s message of compassion and equality will be heard across parishes and at Mass. Helen O’Shea adds: “Historically, the SVP works quietly, humbly and with dignity to alleviate poverty in all its forms, but over the past 18 months we have proved that we are also agile, innovative and brave. Our work is inspiring, and I invite anyone who feels they want to make a difference in their community to join us and help to fight back against the blight of deprivation and suffering.”
There will be a special Mass on 27 September at the Sacred Heart and Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church in Mill Hill, London with Father Eugene Curran.
SVP chief executive Elizabeth Palmer concludes: “Awareness Month highlights the transformative effect of a small gesture and the cumulative effect they can have on a community. It offers a glimpse into the service offered by SVP members who feel the pull to befriend, support, feed, clothe and make a home for anyone who, through the randomness of fate, is in need. Now is the time for everyone to make one of those seemingly small gestures of kindness and build a better future for everyone.”
For further information on the SVP’s Awareness Month campaign or to donate, please visit https://www.svp.org.uk/help-svp or call 0207 703 3030.