BY Amanda Connelly | June 22 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Homelessness youth rally highlights work of SSVP

The young people took part in three workshops with different speakers: Sr Jacqueline Ritchie from SSVP Paisley’s Our Lady of the Wayside Conference; Pauline Hannigan and Gregor Ritchie from the Simon Community

SCOTTISH Catholic high school pupils stood in solidarity to raise awareness of homelessness, as they joined in the annual Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) national youth day last week.

Young people from a number of schools came together at St Mirin’s Cathedral Hall in Paisley for the day, which included opportunities for fun and reflection. Pupils attended from St Joseph’s Academy, Kilmarnock, St Benedict’s High School, Linwood, St Peter the Apostle High School, Clydebank, St Thomas Aquinas’ Secondary, Glasgow, Trinity High School, Rutherglen, and St Ninian’s High School, Giffnock.

They were welcomed to the event with an introduction from SSVP national vice-president Danny Collins.

Led by Danny Sweeney of Justice and Peace Scotland, the young people played a number of ice-breaker games before being introduced to the day’s theme: “But no strangers had to spend a night on the streets, for my door was always open.”

The young people took part in three workshops with ­different speakers: Sr Jacqueline Ritchie from SSVP Paisley’s Our Lady of the Wayside Conference; Pauline Hannigan and Gregor Ritchie from the Simon Community, who run the Night-stop service for young people aged 16-25, and Ross Ahlfeld of Glasgow Catholic Worker.

Mr Ahlfeld said his workshop was based on the themes of ‘personalism’ and ‘works of mercy,’ adding that ‘there is no them and us, there is only us.’

The young people played a number of other games ­including a scramble for cash, and an auction of items they might need to spend a night on the streets.

Danny Collins, vice president of the SSVP national council, said he was ‘encouraged’ by the number of young people in attendance, and impressed by the wide range of interactive activities.

“The three workshops were both informative and interesting,” he said.

The day concluded with prayer and reflection, as the young people considered the impact of what they had learned about homelessness as an issue within society.

Danny Sweeney was delighted with the day. He said: “The day went really well. It was a great chance for young people from SSVP groups from across several of our schools and dioceses to learn from people working on the frontline.

“If we can harness all the imagination and passion for changing the world and serving the poor and marginalised that our young people have, we can make a really compelling case for the next 100 years and transform Scotland.”

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