Young Saint Vincent de Paul: Why You Should Take Part

Young Saint Vincent de Paul: Why You Should Take Part by Mohammad Naeem

Transition year is a year that is a mystery to many people, despite being introduced in 1974. Parents or students haven’t really been given proper resources or guidance to what being in TY involves other than all the trips which have mostly been cancelled, leaving students stuck in classes and schools are scrambling to find activities for Transition Years to do. My school still has found many activities for the Transition Years to do, thanks to the TY co-ordinator. We always have something new every week keeping us busy. But not all students are enjoying TY this year, this article is going to help you so you’ll find something new to do. I am going to focus on Young SVP in this article but is an excellent resource for you to find many more things to do.

What is Young Saint Vincent de Paul?

Many of you have heard of Saint Vincent de Paul, they are the largest voluntary charitable organisation in Ireland. They have a programme for young people who want to get involved in their local communities. The programme offers young people the chance to engage in social action and encourages social and personal development. Students set up a conference within the class which consists of 10 people who are all given certain roles and have the responsibility of organising projects for their class and to make sure everyone gets involved. The conference decides what projects they want the class to do which are mainly split into four main categories:

  • Befriending projects 
  • Education projects
  • Social Justice Action projects
  • Direct Aid projects

With Christmas around the corner SVP needs everyone to get involved as due to pandemic they have been faced with many challenges. Saint Vincent de Paul shops have been forced to shut down making it difficult for them to help families in need in the run up to Christmas. They have also been unable to do their annual food appeals due to Covid-19 making it even more important for everyone to get involved this Christmas.

Image: Young girl looking at a teddy she wants but it will cost her family two weeks of heating. Raising awareness of the impossible choices families need to make. Photo Credit: Saint Vincent de Paul 

Different project ideas:

There are many different projects you can do but there is one that is really important this year. Usually nursing homes are busy getting visits from TYs during the Christmas time but this is unable to happen unfortunately. This leaves the elderly at the nursing homes feeling even more isolated from the world. So for your befriending projects this year you should definitely involve the elderly in some way. You can be really creative here, there are many different things you can do such as care packages for the nursing home which is one my class is doing or just a simple written letter telling them how school is going, something very simple.

Another project that falls in the direct aid category is a one off tuck shop in your school. Something that would create excitement around the school especially if your canteen in school has closed. This project involves much more planning but is a great event you could organize. 

Advertisement poster in St.Colmans College for their tuck shop

Interview with Helen Ralph – Youth Development Officer

I have interviewed Helen Ralph who is the Youth Development Officer of the West region. I asked her a few questions about the Young SVP to help students get a better understanding of the programme.

How does Young Saint Vincent de Paul benefit our communities?

There are a lot of people in the community that need help from SVP, it can just take one small problem to tip someone into crisis and poverty.  It can be an unexpected illness or unexpected bills.  But, we know that a little help at the right time can stop a domino effect leading to a family experiencing prolonged hardship.  

Last year in the West Region (Galway, Mayo, Roscommon) spent 1 million helping people in need in the community. 

What benefits do young people who take part in this programme get?

The Young SVP programme aims to help young people grow in faith and social awareness. The Youth Development team try to facilitate a deeper understanding of the world around them and of the ways in which they can work together to eradicate social injustices and poverty. We encourage them to recognise their potential to affect this change through their social justice projects.

Why is it important for young people to get involved in their communities?

It is important for young people to get involved so they can gain a deeper understanding into the issues that are happening in their communities. It gives them a chance to understand that they too have a very important role to play in the community and the power they have to affect change in their area. 

What effects is Covid-19 having on different charities such as Saint Vincent de Paul?

Covid 19 has affected the charity in a lot of ways. Firstly, we have had to close our offices and our Vincent’s shop. The Vincents shop brings in a lot of revenue for the SVP but also it is a great way to reach out to the people in the community. 

Our members can’t do their home visits, and so we are trying to come up with new ideas to still reach the most vulnerable in our society. 

We cannot do our usual annual appeal, again this will affect our fundraising, so we are encouraging people to donate online through a virtual appeal. 

Since the introduction of Young SVP how much has it helped Saint Vincent de Paul and the people who they help?

It has had a huge benefit to SVP as an organisation. Young people bring fresh and new ideas, they can help raise awareness of the work of SVP in their local communities and to families who need help. 

Why should students take part in Young Saint Vincent de Paul?

The programme focuses on social action within the ethos and mission of SVP.. Young people are offered opportunities to learn about SVP, Social Justice and how to engage in social action in a positive meaningful way. It is a chance for students to take control and decide what they would like to do to make a difference to the people around them. The programme is very accessible to all students. As Well as having Youth Development Officers visiting school in person and virtually. Students can also take part in the ‘Young SVP Champions programme’ online. 

Thank you so much to Helen for answering these questions.

Hopefully this inspires and motivates someone else to take part in this wonderful programme or just get involved in their local community. If you need more information you can find it on their website:

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