VOlUNTEERING charity, the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) is launching Rise to the Challenge, an innovative awareness-building campaign designed to help people better understand the work of the SVP, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, to raise funds to help those in most need and to encourage more people to join.
The SVP has created the campaign to focus attention on the amazing and vital work of SVP members, staff and volunteers during the pandemic with thousands of hungry people fed, and friendship and support offered to the lonely and isolated. It aims to hit an initial target of £100,000 for the SVP’s COVID-19 recovery programme.
The campaign invites people to show their support for the SVP in one of three ways:
- Join the SVP either as a full or Temporary Auxiliary Member, helping with ‘knock and drop’ food deliveries, or as a volunteer at a St Vincent’s Shop or St Vincent’s Support Centre, doing their bit to help people in need during the crisis
- Take the fundraising challenge – raise £100, or any amount, to help pay for activities now and during the post-COVID economic recovery period
- Make a direct donation to the programme
Although people are being challenged to help in one of these ways, the SVP hopes many people will do all three.
ITV Newscaster Julie Etchingham, whose father is an SVP member in her home parish in Leicester, is a patron of the Rise to the Challenge campaign.
Julie, an award-winning journalist and presenter of News at Ten said:
“I’ve always known what extraordinary work its members do. Quietly, without fanfare, supporting families and individuals enduring the hardest of times.
“In a society suffering an epidemic of loneliness and deep-rooted poverty, the outstanding work of SVP members is needed more than ever. It might be in supporting someone who has just left prison, someone who’s in debt or unemployed, a family in crisis due to ill health or bereavement, people for whatever reason feeling marginalised, disenfranchised, or simply lonely.
“I’m proud to support their life-giving work, and hope you will too as the SVP rises to the challenges of this next century.”
The SVP has provided materials and suggestions to take part in the Rise to the Challenge campaign. A web page (www.svp.org.uk/rise) suggests fun ways people can raise money. Here is a small selection of things people can do to help:
- Donate your birthday – instead of getting presents ask family and friends to donate to the SVP COVID-19 Recovery Fund in your name
- Organise a virtual pub quiz over Zoom – have each person pay £1 or £2 to enter and instead of a prize, the winner just gets the glory and a round of applause
- Follow in the footsteps of Colonel Tom – climb Mount Snowdon on your stairs, run a marathon in your back garden or walk the equivalent of Land’s End to John O’Groats in your local street
During the launch of a COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan on 23 March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said:
“We must come to the aid of the ultra-vulnerable – millions upon millions of people who are least able to protect themselves. This is a matter of basic human solidarity. It is also crucial for combating the virus. This is the moment to step up for the vulnerable.”
SVP National President Helen O’Shea commented:
“In a world facing not only the unprecedented crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also the ever-present spectres of poverty, loneliness and inequality, it is easy to become downcast, but we must rise to the challenge. We must meet these challenges with compassion, friendship and understanding.
“Our Rise to the Challenge campaign is raising awareness of the serious issues millions of people in the UK and across the world are facing today and in the future. Rise to the Challenge gives everyone in the UK the tools they need to help those in urgent need of practical support, friendship and understanding.
“Now is the time to ‘Rise to the Challenge’. As our founder, Blessed Frédéric Ozanam said, ‘Let us do without hesitation whatever good lies at our hands’.”
For more information or to donate to the SVP’s Rise to the Challenge campaign, go to www.svp.org.uk/rise, @SVPEnglandWales (#SVPRiseChallenge) or telephone 020 7703 3030.