BY James Farrell | March 15 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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New SSVP president hopes to grow ranks to combat poverty

Attracting new members is top priority for new SSVP president, finds Matt Meade

The message from the new head of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) is clear: Join us! Barrhead man Danny Collins responded to questions about his new role after being recently elected to lead the charity in Scotland. And recruiting more lay-people to help the poor emerged as his key aim. Mr Collins wants to instil the Vincentian vocation in the hearts and minds of parishioners young and old to help secure the future of the SSVP, whose work in alleviating poverty and loneliness has been described as ‘vital’ by the Scottish Government.

 

What’s the biggest challenge facing the charity?

One of my priorities is getting new members, to help secure the long-term future of the organisation in Scotland.

 

Is the SSVP attracting younger members?

We can attract young people, if the conditions are right. For example, at my parish of St John’s in Barrhead, a young woman who was involved in Caritas asked if she could join. We were delighted—she is now a full member and she’s only 18 years old. Campaigns are necessary, but word-of-mouth is a traditional and, I think, the most effective way of doing it. Also, showing people by example what we do— hopefully that way we can attract more members too.

 

What other priorities do you have in your new role?

To improve communication at parish, diocesan and national levels.

 

How important is communication?

You have to visible. Because of our principles and values, humility often comes into it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t let people in our community know who we are and what we do. If it wasn’t for their generous contributions we wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing.

 

How will you go about achieving your priorities?

By reviewing what’s going on in different places in order to know what needs done. Priorities and needs vary. We will try to ensure there is a consistency in the way we try to deliver the services for the people we are able to help. I am confident these aims will be achieved with the help of members throughout Scotland, the dedicated staff in our Glasgow office and with the assistance of Richard Steinbach, who is the organisation’s new national vice-president.

 

Why should people join the SSVP?

It gives you the opportunity to put your Christianity into action. Voluntary work in the community can really improve the quality of life for other people.

 

How important is that Faith element?

It’s the most important aspect. People see what we do and we only hope we can make a difference for other people. If others want to take a step towards joining us then that’s good.

 

When did you join the society and why?

I joined the society in 2007 so I’m relatively young—though I’m not talking young in age! The St Vincent de Paul offered me the opportunity to continue being involved in the community. My neighbour was a member and he also encouraged me.

 

What is the SSVP best at?

The way we respond and listen to individuals, that person-to-person action. We deal with it in an open way because we don’t discriminate against anyone. We help everybody, irrespective of their colour or creed.

 

How does it feel to be the new president of the SSVP?

It’s a privilege!

— To find out more about the Society of St Vincent de Paul visit ssvpscotland.com or speak to your parish conference. Follow the society on Twitter: @SocJustSSVPScot

 

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