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The Parish The Sacred Heart and St. Margaret Mary. East Dereham, Norfolk



The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) is an international Christian voluntary organisation. Its objective is the alleviation of poverty. 

The Society was founded in Paris in 1833 by a group of Catholic students who, led by Frederic Ozanam, aimed to put their faith into action through direct contact and assistance to the poor.  Inspired by the work and teachings of St Vincent de Paul, a priest who abandoned the profit of an ecclesiastical career at the Royal Court in favour of working with the marginalised and forgotten poor of France in the 1600s, the group placed itself under his patronage.

The first Conference of Charity in England and Wales was formed in 1844.  Today, there are currently 10,000 voluntary members working for the Society in their local communities.  All members are unpaid volunteers, local people from all sections of society who meet together weekly or fortnightly and who do the work of the SVP in their own time.

The local Conference is the basic and most important unit of the Society.  Most Conferences devote their main energies to visiting families and individuals in need, including elderly, sick or housebound people who may be very lonely, as well as visiting people in hospital.

More specific practical assistance can be given depending on the nature of the help required and the capacity of the local membership.  Each case is decided on an individual basis, but in general any financial support is strictly limited.  When members understand the nature of the problems facing the people they visit they can help them access relevant SVP projects, state services or other agencies who may be able to provide specialist support and assistance.

Above all, SVP members offer people the hand of friendship, practical help and total confidentiality.

The Conference of the Sacred Heart, Dereham, was formed in 1990.  There are currently 7 full time members and one auxiliary member.  The Conference meets fortnightly on Wednesday evenings to report on work carried out, to consider any problems or requests for help.  An essential part of the meeting is also to meet the spiritual needs of members and those we help and to pray for and with them.

Visiting forms the main focus of the Conference’s work.  There is also a separate Prison Visiting group organised by members of the Conference who attend on a rota basis for weekly Mass on Saturdays at Wayland Prison, followed by refreshments and chat afterwards with those inmates who attend the Mass.

For more information, contact Deacon Martin Sanderson, temporary acting Chairman c/o The Presbytery or email dcnmsanderson@hotmail.com 

or go to www.svp.org.ukor contact the SVP National Office, 9 Larcom Street, Walworth, London SE17 1RX  Tel: 0207 703 3030 - 9.00am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, email info@svp.org.uk







Article written by Richard May


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