The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) was founded in 1833 in Paris by a young lawyer, Frederic Ozanam who wanted to help the destitude and poor of the city. He chose St Vincent de Paul to be its patron as Vincent had been known as ‘ The Father of the poor’ in an earlier generation.
St Vincent our patron said, ‘ Go to the poor; you will find God’.
Our conference here in the Bishop’s Stortford Parish at St Joseph and the English Martyrs meet every two weeks in the Parish Centre to pray together and consider how we might be able to help those who have asked for some material help.
Such requests might include visiting the lonely who look for company for a chat or help with tasks like shopping. These are usually arranged for regular times. we also deal with more urgent situations e.g. where families might want some food and clothing for their children and this will be dealt with immediately if we have enough information to examine their needs. Obviously there are all sorts of emergencies and we do our best to help or pass on information which might lead to more substantial support elsewhere.
On a general helping programme the conference holds a monthly coffee morning after Mass at approximately 10am in the Windhill Churches Centre where hot drinks are available to all who come.
At Christmas we assist the Rotary club in delivering parcels to people who have insufficient food to make Christmas a little more cheerful.
We also give prisoners in a nearby prison a small gift of sweets, via the Chaplain, to make Christmas a little more cheerful.
Wanting to help SVP members in other countries we are ‘ twinned’ with a Conference in Kerala, India and send them a small amount of money each year to help them do charitable work in their region. We write to each other on a regular basis and our correspondence benefits both conferences. through your generous donations via the SVP collection box at the back of the Church and annual Parish collections we are able to continue the charitable works begun by Frederic Ozanam in 1833, both here at St Joseph’s, Bishop’s Stortford and the other 131 countries around the world where we have conferences.
Frederic Ozanam, our founder, said ‘ Charity must never look to the past but always to the future because the number of its past works is still very small and the present and future miseries that it must alleviate are infinite’.
All members must be screened by the Diocesan Authorities for suitability and DBS checks are compulsory for members who visit those who might be classified as vulnerable. All of our work is confidential too. You can contact us via the website or via any member of the Conference
Location: Windhill Churches Centre, “Upper Room”
National website: www.svp.org.uk