A local poverty charity marked 180 years of helping those in need at cathedral celebration

Attendees at the SVP 180 event in Liverpool

Taking place in the foyer, the awe-inspiring architecture of the building was a perfect setting to honour this great milestone, which was attended by Catholic Bishop of Liverpool Tom Williams, SVP Membership Support Officer Kathy Riley, local Mini Vinnie groups, alongside many other attendees.

Since 1845, the SVP has been operating in Liverpool by supporting the poorest and most vulnerable members of society through face-to-face contact, befriending, and offering any form of help they might need.

CEO of SVP, Elizabeth Palmer, said: “In many ways the challenges facing individuals, families and communities have changed over the past 180 years, but in many ways, they have remained the same.

“In communities across the country our members and Conferences continue to provide hope in times of great uncertainty and help those experiencing poverty.”

Speaking about the work of the SVP in Liverpool, Archbishop Malcolm McMahon OP, said: “The SVP has become a fixture of parish life throughout the diocese and in these straitened times its work is as important as ever.

“The SVP remains relevant because it finds new ways of meeting the challenges of the day.”

Ann Kirby, Conference President & SVP member for over 35 years spoke at the event where she said: “In our Conference we go out and visit elderly people who are on their own, people in homes, and families who need our help. We recently had a family who came over from Japan who had nothing. So within 24 hours we got them and their whole house sorted. We also help out with school uniforms, so we go to a local shop and they give us vouchers to use so that if anyone sees them people will think they’ve returned an item and being given a voucher, that way it doesn’t make them look any different to anyone else.”

Dignity and discretion is something that SVP members take very seriously when helping those in need in the local community. Ensuring that those who need help are not singled out and no one would know they are struggling.

Ian Kempsell, SVP Trustee and CC President of Southwest Lancashire, who also attended the 180th anniversary event said: “When my children were grown up, I rejoined the SVP which is about 15 years ago now. I joined as an SVP member, but the SVP does need people who administer in some way so I found myself in that role. What we came to see what pre-COVID was people were not going to mass anymore so we thought of a few schemes to try and deal with that, and one of the most important things we found was that young people have to go to school and when we spoke to some of the teachers we came to realise that schools are really the new church because they nurture the children. So we set a scheme up there which helps teachers to help their pupils which has been wonderful successful now and we’re currently helping 17 schools.”

Right Reverend Tom Williams, Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool said: “The beauty of the SVP is that it’s secretive, it’s done quietly without any show. It’s done to the need and wasn’t a display and I’ve always supported them. It’s done discreetly and it’s done quietly and caringly with discretion and respect.”

2024 marks the 180th year of the SVP in England and Wales and since then, the Society has grown to empower communities through compassion and care, providing hope in difficult times and worked tirelessly towards serving those in need not matter of race, religion, gender or circumstances.