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Christchurch SVDP Stories

Young Vinnies’ strong presence

Young Vinnies in Christchurch have kept our presence strong over the past few months. During the Covid-19 lockdown we released several well-being worksheets for our students and continued an active presence online.

Before lockdown we were part-way through our Lenten appeal, ‘40 bags for 40 days’ which asks students to donate items to St Vincent de Paul that they no longer need. Several of our schools are continuing the appeal with a focus on warm items for use in the winter months. We have continued opportunities for our youth to volunteer at our op shops. 

In July we celebrated International SVDP Youth day. Activities included holding a mini Faith-in-Action Day and an inter-school zoom call and prayer network for the future of the Society.

Young Vinnies - St Vincent de Paul Society, Christchurch

“God will provide”

During Covid-19 lockdown, the Society’s Christchurch Board was faced with the challenge of continuing to provide assistance to our welfare clients, while keeping our staff and Vincentians safe, in the face of zero income from our retail shops which were closed.

A former President of Christchurch SVDP, Tony Pemberton was renowned for trusting in providence. He often took a different view to his Treasurer, who would say “Tony, we don’t have the money.” Tony would always reply, “God will provide, let’s do it.” 

The Christchurch Board remembered those words as we set about designing a contact-free method of issuing grocery vouchers to those in need. We came up with an electronic method of issuing a voucher and sending it to the client’s cell phone and a copy to the supermarket. The system worked very well with the client receiving the voucher by text and then able to redeem the voucher at their local supermarket. 

The cost was projected to be $5,000 per week. How could we pay for this? It was suggested we set up a “Give a Little” page online which we did. After one month in level 4 of Covid-19, we had issued over 300 vouchers and spent over $20,000. During the same period, our “Give a Little” page had received $14,000 with an additional $6,000 donated directly to Vinnies. God indeed provided through the generosity of many! 

Mike Daly - Christchurch Area President, St Vincent de Paul 

Meeting a growing need

On a Tuesday and Thursday, three of the SVdP conferences in our new Christchurch West Parish meet to pack parcels for some folks who need a hand. During and since the lockdown, we have noticed a few changes. Many immigrants and students are needing help as they lose their jobs and cannot turn to family for help. Locals who have never needed a hand from Vinnies are needing a top-up of food. 

One bonus is we have had a renewed interest in people wanting to join us or help us. There have been boxes of food from Villa Maria and St Thomas of Canterbury Colleges, young men helping from St Bede's, students from Kolbe House as well as parishioners pitching in and wanting to join Vincentians in the mission of helping others.

John Doocey - Christchurch West parish, St Vincent de Paul

Time out in the McKenzie District

Earlier this year, two of the Mosque shooting widows, Insha from India and Kiran from Pakistan, were supported by St Vincent de Paul by having a couple of nights away in Twizel with their families. They had been given a holiday home they could use and SVDP paid for their transport and touring around. Denis and I were privileged to drive this group of 10 in a van and be with them on this first holiday since the attacks. It was not easy for these families to travel without husbands and fathers but they courageously took on the challenge for their own recovery and for their children. As they were both very good at speaking English, communication was easy. The weather was at South Island’s best and their stay at the holiday home was comfortable and cosy. Denis, being an ex-tour driver, used his expert driving and tour guiding skills along the way. Highlights were a trip to Aoraki/Mount Cook, a fun family evening spent at Lake Ruataniwha and a time of peace at Lake Tekapo. They spoke of their deep sadness to us but this was a very happy time spent together and many photos were taken to capture the memories.

Liz Mulholland - St Vincent de Paul Society, Christchurch