SSVP President joins calls for improved help for poor

The Society of St Vincent de Paul in Scotland (SSVP) has added its voice to calls for an "adequate social security system" to help combat the cost of living.

Vincentian charities across the UK issued a statement following the Autumn Budget announcement from the UK Government.

Danny Collins, National President of SSVP Scotland, said: “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Vincentian brothers and sisters in challenging the social injustices imposed on those we serve.

"The Vincentian statement is a true reflection on how we must always challenge those responsible for implementing policies which further impoverish those most in need.”

The statement calls for:

The St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP) alone has supported over 55,000 people in the past year (England and Wales), and it reports worrying trends such as people on higher income accessing our foodbanks, and a 66% increase in the number of requests for help from 2020.

Elizabeth Palmer, CEO of the SVP in England and Wales, said: “The number of people seeking our help across the country is increasing every day.

The profile of the people seeking our help is also changing and is beginning to include those who were previously managing to cope without our help.”

Mark Choonara, CEO of Daughters of Charity Services, says: “We are in a recession. As we seek to restore our economic growth, we must ensure that equality and fairness are rooted at the heart of our efforts, revitalising our society along with our economy.”

The statement, Signed by groups including Company of Mission Priests and Congregation of the Mission, adds: "Catholic social teaching upholds the right for everyone to have dignity.

"We as Vincentian charities call on the government to provide adequate social protection that takes into consideration the basic necessities of life."

SSVP: daily support for those in need

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) works  all year around to support those in need in communities across Scotland.

Around 2000 SSVP volunteer members provide this assistance on a daily basis. Working in 300 groups, they assist people in need in the best way

SSVP member Richard Steinbach said: "It is important that our outreach and support for those in need is always available.

"With some shops and foodanks closed on Monday (19 Sep), if you're struggling to get by, or have a family to feed, please don't hesitate to get in touch with your local SSVP conference."

Alternatively, contact Richard on 07719 898 502 for assistance. To become a member of the SSVP contact your local parish. More at

Janice making 1000 soap bars for Mary's Meals

Janice Evans has broken through the halfway point of her challenge for Mary’s Meals, which supports millions of youngsters in deprived nations around the world every school day, writes Jonathon Reilly.

She is even being helped along the way by her children, Mairianne and Michael, who cut her antimicrobial soap loaves and tidy the bars.

Janice’s soap bars will be distributed as part of the Mary’s Meals Backpack Project which gathers and donates bags filled with pencils, notepads, clothing and other hygiene essentials.

Janice, 45, has so far made 540 soap bars for a charity which has been woven into her life and hopes to hit her four-figure target within the next few months.

She said: “I’d realised Mary’s Meals has been in the background of my life in different points, even from being a little girl.

“I’d met the parents of the founder, Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow, when I was primary school age. My parents were friendly with a chap called Father Lynch and it was through him they met them and I was also there.

Janice Evans who's making 1000 soap bars for Mary's Meals.

"It's been nice having my children's help and involving them in the charitable work. I've been to Craig Lodge as a a teenager on a retreat and our kids do the backpack at school every year for Mary's Meals.

“It’s one of few charities that keep running costs down to a minimum. A very high percentage goes right to the charity. The rest is basically just living expenses for the people who have to feed families while doing the job.

“I also love the idea of a bar of soap going in a child’s bag and helping a whole family, as we all know how important hand-washing is just now.”

Janice started out in aromatherapy massage in 2008 and specialised in reflexology and Indian head massages.

She moved into soap-making last year and attributes her new-found passion to her early aromatherapy days.

Janice said: “I made soap last year when the virus hit.

“I wanted to do something for the community when the shelves were going bare. All soaps are full of palm oil which is a bit of a crime to me, as it harms the rain forests and doesn’t need to be used.

“Making soap grew out of the aromatherapy because I make loads of nice blends. It’s been quite a learning curve but I really enjoy it.

“I started the challenge on February 19. All going well, I have about 14 weeks left. I’ve also had a trapped nerve in my neck but I’ve managed to keep going!

“I’d really like to thank all the people who have donated.”

Gillian McMahon, director of supporter engagement and income at Mary's Meals, said: “We are so thankful to Janice for her amazing efforts.

“A bag filled with school essentials is a wonderful gift because it ensures these children can get the most out of their education, giving them a ladder out of poverty and the chance of a better future.”

This article first appeared in the Falkirk Herald.

Generous parishioners pack hall with presents!

A Great Toy Giveaway will take place this weekend at St Francis Xavier's Parish in Falkirk thanks to the generosity of parishioners and the local community.

A parish appeal for toys, books and various gifts led to a church hall packed with presents, meaning struggling parents can give children a Christmas to remember.

Parish priest, Fr Jamie Boyle, said: "What an amazing response to our Toy Exchange. This will lighten the burden for so many families this Christmas and it’s good for the planet too!"

A parishioner posted a video on the Parish Facebook page and said: "When Fr Jamie came in and looked at the hall and saw everything, he filled up, because I don't quite think he could believe the generosity."

They added: "Thanks to the generosity of our parishioners we have loads of great toys, games, books, bikes, prams, dolls...all free to take away and hopefully fill a child with joy on Christmas morning."

The Great Toy Giveaway will take place in St Francis Xavier’s Hall, next to the library on Hope Street, 10:00am till 4:00pm.

Practical charity

Archbishop Cushley is encouraging parishes across the Archdiocese to do what they can to support struggling families this Christmas.

He shared a message from the diocesan Caritas, Justice & Peace Commission on practical steps to help those who need support, particularly at Christmas.

Fr Basil Clark, who leads the commission, wrote to clergy following the recent World Day of Prayer for the Poor: "We decided that this was not the year for yet another special collection, drawing resources from the parishes. We want to encourage Catholics to act by getting involved in practical acts of charity, locally, particularly as we approach Christmas, which can be a difficult and stressful time for parents in need."

Fr Basil has highlighted the following to parishes:

The Society of St Vincent de Paul The SSVP do a power of work for the poor in the Archdiocese. Many of our parishes have an SSVP conference in which members quietly work to give support to the poor and work with other organisations in bringing relief to those in need. In our Archdiocese, the SSVP runs a Caravan Project, giving holidays and respite breaks to families. It's furniture project makes hundreds of deliveries of free furniture to those who need it each year. To find out more about the work of the SSVP in Scotland visit its website.

Foodbanks Many supermarkets have donation trollies available. Please consider adding a children's toy to your shopping list to make a Christmas donation.

Schools Local schools often have a keen awareness of poverty in the local area. Look out for appeals from your local school to discover the range of  charity initiatives they may be running that you can donate to.


On a national and global level, it is easy to set up a standing order of even a very small amount to ensure you make a regular donation to charity. Some charities endorsed by the Church and which often run Christmas appeals include Missio, Mary's Meals, Aid to the Church in Need and SCIAF.

Prayer for the 2020 World Day of the Poor (Sunday 15 Nov)

Following World Day of the Poor, we encourage parishioners to pray for the poor in their community and across the world

Almighty, ever-living God, your beloved Son came to us in poverty
to win for us the riches of eternal life.
During His time on earth He taught us by word and deed.
From His death we learned of the immensity of His love;
from His resurrection we learned how to believe and to trust
that our lives have purpose from beginning to end.
Help us never to forget that every person has value and is loved by You.

Remind us that, as Your people grow older,
they do not cease to be people worthy of respect, understanding and appreciation.
Though the eyes of the elderly may grow dim,
we pray that their vision of everlasting life with You may grow ever stronger;
though their bodies may become frail,
we pray that their faith may empower them; though their minds may falter,
we pray that their memories may bring them comfort and peace.

Lord God, may we never forget your Golden Rule
to treat others as we would wish to be treated
and remember to apply that Rule most especially during the golden years of age.
Save us from falling into the trap of seeing the elderly as a burden.

We ask you, Lord God, to help us set aside material wealth
so as to recognise the spiritual riches of patience, compassion and love for all your people.
As we journey through this life side by side,
may we learn to support one another with the combined wealth of youth,
strength, wisdom and experience until we are called to the place you have prepared
for all those who are poor in spirit and rich in love.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son,
who lives with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.



Society of St Vincent de Paul prepares for landmark year

The coming year will be a big one for the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in Scotland - and is of special significance to our Archdiocese.

The foundation of the charity's first conference was at St Patrick’s in Edinburgh, way back on 25th May, 1845.

National President Danny Collins said: "As the time draws close to the end of 2019, we can reflect on the personal spiritual blessings that we received during this year and humbly recall the many acts of charity delivered to those in need that we gladly serve. The New Year is of particular significance in the historical journey of the SSVP as we celebrate our 175th anniversary.

"The coming year also marks the 50th anniversary of the National Council of Scotland, instituted in 1970."

The aim of the Society is to provide a means for members to practice Christianity by showing God’s love to their neighbours who are in need. Its work in our Archdiocese includes prison visits, providing caravan holidays  and helping people in financial difficulties on a person to person basis.

This Christmas, many SSVP conferences are providing food hampers and toys to individuals and families who are in need of a helping hand.

They include the Most Holy Trinity Parish, based at St John & St Columba's Church in Rosyth. Margaret Wilson (above) and fellow members have been busy collecting Christmas hampers, following kind donations from parishioners and the West Fife community.

In the far west of the Archdiocese, SSVP conferences will help distribute nearly 100 parcels collected at St Maurice's High School.

Writing in the latest edition of the Ozanam News, the society's magazine, Mr Collins added: "I wish to express my appreciation to all those involved with the SSVP in Scotland and hope that everyone has a Holy Joyful Christmas and a Happy, Healthy New Year 2020."

Nationally, next year will see events across the country to help celebrate the 175-years milestone, including:

Mon 25th May 2020: 175th Anniversary event St Patrick’s, Edinburgh.

Sat 13th June 2020: Annual Mass St Andrew’s Cathedral, Glasgow.

Sat. 29th August 2020: Annual Meeting Corn Exchange, Edinburgh.

To read the latest edition of the Ozanam News click here.

Parishioners thanked on feast day of St Vincent de Paul

Parishioners across the Archdiocese have been thanked for supporting the work of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP).

SSVP President for St Andrews & Edinburgh, Richard Steinbach, said: "On this Feast Day of St Vincent de Paul, it's a great opportunity to say how grateful we are for parishioners' continued support. The money you put into the SSVP box after Mass makes a huge difference.

"It means we can provide food for those who need a helping hand feeding their family and give funds to local people suffering financial crisis.

"It also supports our popular furniture project as well as our caravan project which gives a holiday to those who might not get one.

Richard, who is also the Society's national vice-president, added: "Please keep the work of the Society in your prayers as we continue to do our best to follow the Christ-like example of St Vincent de Paul, and our founder Blessed Frederic Ozanam."

Visit for more information on its work.