Bishop Eton has had an active parish SVP group, or conference since 1981. The conference is part of the Society of St Vincent de Paul which was founded in Paris in 1833 by a group of students led by Blessed Frederick Ozanam, who wished to meet the challeng of living the message of the Gospels through practical Christain action. The Society was placed under the patronage of St Vincent de Paul, the patron of charitable works, hence its name.
The Society exists to seek out and help the poor and needy and for the spiritual development of its members. Despite the many changes in our world and the development of the welfare state, there are still many in need today, almost two centuries after the founding of the Society. What has changed in many cases is the type of need, and this is reflected in the work of the conference.
We provide practical and financial help to those who have real material need, including families and individuals outside our parish, in surrounding parishes and communities where there is either no SVP conference or a very overstretched one. Many of our visits are to those who are unable to get out and miss the chance to talk about and keep up to date with what is happening in the parish. This includes thse who are in residential homes and hospitals. At other times we have have helped those who need transport to a hospital or medical appointment when there is no family member available to take them, or to get to Mass.
The conference also looks outside our immediate area and contributes, as we are required to do, through the payment of tithes to the National SVP funds, from the very generous financial support we receive in our monthly church collections. We also provide practical help to those working with asylum seekers in St Anne's and St Bernard's parishes and through the Twinnage scheme, support the work of the SVP in India and Sudan.
We are told in the Rule of the Society that, "no work of charity should be foreign" to us and are constantly looking to offer support and help where it is required. If any parishioner knows of any one who needs our help or support we are always happy to respond, all we ask is that you have checked with the person concerned that they are happy for their name and details to be passed to us. We can be contacted as detailed below.
In the same way we are always open to new members who wish to share in the work of the Society. There is perhaps a misconception that the Parish conference is only for men. This is not the case but as it was originally formed when there was no spiritual society for men in the parish, but several for women, the membership over the years has been predominantly male.
In accordance with current safeguarding regulations all members and prospective members are subject to full CRB checks which can take some weeks before a new member can take an active part in the work of the conference.