“The knowledge of social well-being and of reform can be learned not from books, nor from the public platform, but in climbing the stairs to the poor person's garret, sitting by their bedside, feeling the same cold that pierces them, sharing the secrets of their lonely hearts and troubled minds.”
Blessed Frederic Ozanam - the Society's Founder
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.
Visiting prisoners is a specialised work, and can be done in a number of ways. It is possible to become a regular prison visitor, but many more just visit an individual prisoner at their request or assist the prison chaplain. Help may be given to prisoners' families by visiting them at home or by providing child-care during prison visits.
In 2014-15 SVP members supported 57,867 individuals and families. Conference members provided 498,025 hours of voluntary service. 8,029 full members made 445,527 visits, giving material assistance such as food or transport on 97,665 occasions. (These figures are based on data collected from 88% of our Conferences as of November 6th 2015).
The aim is to help those in need to be as independent as possible and to be happier as a result of the contact with the Society. Beneficiaries should be aware that they are valued and respected as individuals, secure in the knowledge that there is someone to whom they can turn for a helping hand or a sympathetic ear.
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