Responding in Vincentian
The SVP was born during a pandemic. During the 1830s cholera swept through North America
and Europe, while Paris faced a rebellion on the back of the June Uprising. Masses of people, poor sanitation and great poverty combined to create a perfect climate for infection to
As the Society and its members grew, Frédéric would later reflect on a moment of his own
isolation, on a more care-free time, “Where are our evening walks, our castles in the air, our student follies? Here the present vacation does not at all resemble those which are passed. The fear of
cholera froze those spirits on our arrival. We remained rude and isolated; no friendly dinners, no country parties.”
The desire to help people suffering in a pandemic is hardwired in our DNA; while it could
be said that humanity has never faced a threat quite like this before, equally the world has never been better motivated and inspired to respond. This is true of the SVP. We have always helped;
helping those most in need. Almost two hundred years after Blessed Frédéric’s first act of charity to deliver firewood to a widow whose husband had passed away from cholera, members continue to help
the people around them who are struggling in difficult and challenging times.
SVP co-patron, St Louise de Marillac, in writing to her sisters said “I believe His
goodness gave you the grace not to be bored with nothing to do, since it does not matter that we are not doing something. It is enough that God knows that we are all ready to work whenever He
Isolation does not have to be isolating. While it is possible that we have felt that we
have nothing to do, we needn’t. Our desire to help must burn brighter now than it ever has. It is enough that God knows that we are ready to help whenever He wishes, safely, responsibly, creatively,
and in Vincentian spirit
How you can help
Window cleaning: Many members are offering to
wash the closed downstairs windows of beneficiaries’ houses, while also having a chat through the glass. For someone who has been confined to their house for a long time, it is a wonderful act to
freshen their view of the world
A little gardening: Some green-fingered
members have offered to spruce up the neglected gardens of people confined indoors. If this is something you would like to offer remember to bring your own tools and tidy up behind you. You could
even bring your own flask of tea so that could share a tea break at an appropriate distance. Make sure to only spruce where you have outdoor access and do not enter someone’s home to reach a garden.
If you are borrowing a lawn mower, remember to disinfect before and after use.
Little extras: When we drop deliveries what
else could we add? Colouring books, cross words, or knitting? Even a dreaded Mills and Boon might be welcome. Hand-made gifts from children are an option; as well as keeping the kids busy you could
give the gift of homemade cards, paintings and crafts. Our members and volunteers the world over have thrown themselves headlong into baking and cooking, how lovely it would be to receive the parcel
you need desperately with a thoughtful and delicious treat!
Dog walking: Many people are unable to walk
their pets and they might need a helping hand to exercise their dogs, however there are a few safety aspects to consider. Many services have suggested disinfecting the lead that you take from
someone. Our advice would be to buy your own lead to clip to someone’s dog. Dogs have proven to be a very low risk for transmission so you may consider offering this service.
Leafleting: Last week we heard a story of
someone receiving a bingo card through the letterbox, with a note on the back saying "10am Tuesday." At 10am that Tuesday a sound system was set up in the middle of the cul-de-sac and numbers began
to be called out. Everybody played bingo together from the comfort of their doorstep!
Second-hand shares: Some members have gifted
beneficiaries with radios, music players and second-hand iPads installed with audio books, films and music. Many of us have been forced to become much more technologically literate, so please help
share these skills if you have them. People can still stream Mass, they can still see people face-to-face, they can still reach out across the world, they may just need the tools to do so.