I was struck by the work that St Vincent’s are doing in the community and the potential for bringing real benefit to people who need it; supporting people in getting on with their lives through providing advice, education and counselling and then presenting the opportunity to give back/participate through volunteering or donating food. This brings a real community feel that supports recovery and wellbeing; I hope people will tap into this. I asked if they would be willing to share the news with LYPFT Planning Care Network about what they are up to; and Kim kindly wrote a guest blog:
St Vincent’s has been supporting people living in poverty for 18 years. We are a centre of help, hope and opportunity, with a commitment to offering vulnerable people the tools to come out of debt, back into work and away from poverty. Operating from one of the 1% worst areas nationally for deprivation, we are working at grassroots level with those living on the edge of society.
Our holistic services include free debt advice, education, volunteering, counselling and employability support. All of our services are responsive to the needs of the people that we serve. As a part of our debt advice service, we saw a lot of people who were choosing between buying food and paying essential bills. We also saw a lot of families that were struggling with parents going hungry so their children could eat. We responded to this by giving our clients food parcels to get them through a difficult period.
Our volunteering programme at St Vincent’s is different to other charities as we take on and train people regardless of their background and abilities. This means we offer a supported volunteering pathway which gives people with mental health problems and physical disabilities a chance of work experience. The majority of our volunteers are vulnerable people being supported by us.
With the support of donations from church groups, we were able to expand this service by offering the parcels externally. This has now grown to the point that we are one of the key points of contact for people in need of food.
Did you know we are unlike regular food banks? We offer one-off emergency food parcels to help people during an unexpected crisis. All of our food comes from generous donations from individuals, churches, and other organisations so we can only help people in real need.
Our service works on referrals from professional agencies in Leeds. Agencies such as doctors, support workers and debt advisors can refer a client to us. The client must be destitute and we ask that this service is used as a last resort, when all other available support has been accessed.
Have you ever been in a crisis or known of someone who has? We can help with just one phone call. Last week a support agency in Leeds asked us to help a gentleman they were working with who had not eaten for 3 days due to receiving no benefits. They phoned around to get help but no other agency could help as he was single. Other agencies will only help families but we understand that support needs to be flexible and that there is no one size fits all solution when providing help for people. The gentleman was delighted with the support and was offered help with his debts and benefits advice. The agency said ‘As social workers we often have to deal with society’s most desperate cases; it’s good to know places like St Vincent’s exist’.
We accept referrals by telephone Monday – Friday from 10:00 – 11:30. If the client qualifies for a food parcel, it can be collected the same or next day from 11:30 – 13:00. All referrals must be done over the phone as we need to check the clients’ details with the agency to ensure we are helping the people who need it most.
Would you help us by donating food to help people in need? We gratefully accept donations of store cupboard food including tins, jars, pasta, cereal and long life milk. We also need toiletries such as soap, shampoo and toothpaste.
By donating food you are helping vulnerable people in Leeds who may have no other means of accessing food and this is their last resort, whether it be families, single people or the elderly every food parcel will ensure they eat for a couple of days until they get themselves back on their feet.
There is also the option of ‘giving back’ through donation to St Vincent’s:
Thanks from everyone here at St Vincent’s for all your support.
You can follow St Vincent’s on Twitter @StVincentsLeeds