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SVP reports doubling in numbers seeking support

Ellen Teague - The Tablet - Fri, Mar 17th 2023

A new publication describes the extent to which individuals and support structures are fatigued and under-resourced.

SVP reports doubling in numbers seeking support

SVP volunteers in Southend-on-Sea. The charity has seen the numbers of people requesting its services double.
Society of St Vincent de Paul

Increasing prices combined with the decline of household incomes has meant the number of people requesting support from the St Vincent de Paul Society has doubled in comparison with last year.

This is according to Stories from the Frontline: The real price of the cost of living crisis, a new SVP publication which describes the extent to which individuals and support structures are fatigued and under-resourced.

The society's chief executive Elizabeth Palmer said: “All around the country our support centres and conferences have collectively seen a spike in the number of people turning to our services in order to make ends meet.”

Requests to SVP food banks, kindness kitchens and debt advice have all seen a marked rise.

“Across the UK, faith-based charities like ours are being relied on to fill the gaps in adequate social security provision,” she said.

“In sharing these case studies, we are sharing the lived experience of those who are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis and ensuring that their voice is heard.”

In the Diocese of Salford, the SVP has provided food parcels and school uniforms to families on low income. SVP centres and local parish halls are being re-purposed, with children using them as warm places to spend a few hours after school doing homework because parents cannot afford home heating.

Since the start of 2022, the SVP debt advice team in Leeds has helped 559 people and had a total of £733,344 debt written off. St Vincent’s Centre in Newcastle estimates that 50 per cent of people using its services are refugees, migrants and asylum seekers.

The SVP, which has 876 member groups, is calling on the UK government to show a commitment to the Levelling Up agenda, to improve cooperation between government and frontline faith groups and to provide an adequate and functioning social security system.

Caritas Shrewsbury and Church Action on Poverty are among the Christian organisations joining the End Child Poverty Coalition, which has 82 members.

“Sadly there's even more to do in 2023 but we know we can make a difference together,” said Caritas Shrewsbury.

Church Action on Poverty is organising an all-day conference in Leeds on Saturday 10 June to build links between activists who are based in churches and other organisations and campaigners with lived experience of poverty to address the high level of poverty in the UK.

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