OUR PEOPLE

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people assisted by our 4,100 members in 2019/20.

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hours of service clocked up by our members during 2019/20.

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provided by our members in assistance to disadvantaged people and families in 2019/20.

OUR MEMBERS

“The needs of people are very much the same as they always have been: kindness, a smile and a friendly face, someone to talk to without being judged and a hand up through hard times. My years working at the Society have been very important in my life, giving me the chance to help people and contribute to my community.”

Glenda Cox, who recently farewelled the Society after 45 years’ service in the Riverina region.

MEMBER PROFILE

Pat Ticehurst became the fourth member in the Wilcannia-Forbes Central Council to achieve 70 years of service with the Society.

“I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A PEOPLE PERSON AND VERY MUCH ENJOY VISITATION AND CONVERSING WITH OTHERS AND HEARING THEIR STORIES.” – PAT

Patrick (Pat) Ticehurst

Patrick (Pat) Ticehurst from Condobolin became only the fourth member in the Wilcannia-Forbes Central Council to achieve 70 years of service with the Society in the last year.

Serving as a Member and Volunteer with Condobolin’s St Joseph’s Conference and the local Vinnies Shop, Pat continues to find satisfaction in assisting people in need. “I have always been a people person and very much enjoy visitation and conversing with others and hearing their stories.”

Our members are remarkable people. Right across NSW, more than 4,100 of these local volunteers provide food, groceries, clothing, household items, financial support and friendship to those doing it tough in their communities. They staff our Vinnies Shops, raising crucial funds for our services, and maintain our local Conferences and offices as places where anyone can drop by for support and a compassionate ear.

Members, like our volunteers, are unpaid. Members differ from volunteers in that most belong to Conferences. Most Conferences are based at Catholic churches across NSW, others are in universities, schools and attached to our services. Conferences see “charitable actions” as having a deeper sense of a “faith in action”, accompanying those doing it tough. Society members share this way of action through friendship, service, reflection and prayer. Where most of our volunteers dedicate their time to a particular service, the work of our members is broader and longer-term in nature. Members, as Vincentians, serve the needy with hope. For many members this dedicated service and accompaniment is shared over many years.

Despite being personally affected by this financial year’s bushfires and pandemic, our members continued to support their communities through thick and thin. They volunteered at bushfire evacuation and recovery centres, helping those who had lost their homes or property to access emergency financial assistance from the Society and government. People were also able to drop into our Conferences to access financial and emotional support.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we worked with our members to find new ways of offering support without physical contact. Face-to-face and personable support, offered as Visitation, has always been a hallmark of the Society, so it was challenging to transition to providing assistance over the phone and online. Yet with many of our members aged over 60, it was vital to protect their health as well as that of the people they assist.

Our members established three-way conversations with clients, energy and other service providers, helping people in need to access financial concessions during COVID-19. They made contact-free drop-offs of groceries and other supplies at the homes of elderly and disabled people, struggling families and those forced to self-isolate; and they continued to go out in our Vinnies Vans, partnering with CatholicCare to distribute snack packs for people experiencing homelessness or living in poverty. Our Vinnies Vans teams also partnered with The Salvation Army in Liverpool, St Peter’s Parish in Surry Hills, and generous donors to continue providing food and drink in specific areas of need.

We sincerely thank our members for their dedication, resilience and creativity in continuing to support their communities over this extraordinary year.

A COMMUNITY LAUNDRY LIGHTENS THE LOAD

Paul Burton and David Kanaley from the Society, together with Chris Hietbrink from The Hub and Adam Marshall MP, NSW Member for the Northern Tablelands.

Two tiers of government joined with our members to open a community laundry this year in the drought-stricken town of Guyra. The regional town was suffering household water shortages that left locals struggling to do their washing. After a hard day’s work on a dusty farm, many people were finding themselves unable to even put on a clean shirt.

Our local St Mary of the Angels’ Conference came to the rescue, advocating for a community laundry facility and then supporting its establishment. The NSW Government provided funding for the facility, which was then constructed by the Armidale Regional Council – all up, a great joint effort between government, the community and the Society, and welcomed by Guyra residents.

THE PEOPLE OUR MEMBERS ASSISTED THIS YEAR

Our members supported 55,000 people during the 2019/20 financial year, helping with food, electricity, clothing, furniture, accommodation, transport, medical costs and more. Among those assisted were 9,500 people living with a disability and 12,000 people identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The main form of assistance requested of our members this year, as with previous years, was food. 47% of people seeking assistance reported not having enough food to get by. Many of them had dependent children whose health and development could be impacted by inadequate nutrition.

Around 70% of people supported by our Conferences are living at or below the poverty line, with 15% getting by on less than $500 per fortnight. Many are unemployed or underemployed, with more than half receiving government income support as their primary source of income. 57% are experiencing housing stress, spending more than 30% of their income on accommodation.

Find out more below about the circumstances and demographics of people assisted by our members.

Gender

Age (years)

Accommodation

Co-habitants

Primary source of income

BUDDIES DAYS BRING SMILES TO CHILDREN

Rebecca and Ciara from the St Jerome’s Conference in Macarthur support disadvantaged families by holding “Buddies Days”.

“SEEING THE CHILDREN EXPERIENCE SOMETHING FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT THEY OTHERWISE WOULD NEVER GET TO EXPERIENCE – SUCH AS GOING ON THE LIGHT RAIL, GOING TO THE FARM OR GOING TO A MUSEUM – IS AMAZING,” – CIARA

Rebecca Muir is President of the Macarthur St Jerome’s Conference and has been volunteering with the Society for seven years. Ciara Marchant has been a St Jerome’s Conference member for nine years. This dynamic duo organises our “Buddies Days” for children from disadvantaged families.

“I love working with children and helping families in need. Hearing and seeing the appreciation from parents when they see their child enjoying themselves and socialising with others puts a smile on my face,” Rebecca said.

“Seeing the children experience something for the first time that they otherwise would never get to experience – such as going on the light rail, going to the farm or going to a museum – is amazing,” Ciara said.

YOUTH MEMBERSHIP

Throughout NSW there are close to 7,800 youth members engaged in schools and communities throughout the state.

Our largest cohort are our primary school-based ‘Mini Vinnies’, with more than 6,600 students who take part in fundraising appeals and school sleepouts, and take action on social justice issues that affect their local communities.

Our High School Members, of which there are just over 1,000, work together in High School Conferences to do the same and more, working on community gardening programs, Vinnies Vans and organising their own social justice events.

We have 180 Young Adult Members in University, Parish and community-based Conferences. Young Adult Members run social days for kids and teens, homework programs, volunteer on Vinnies Vans and run social justice advocacy and fundraising initiatives.

ACHIEVEMENTS

2019/20 saw growth in youth membership across NSW. We welcomed a new Young Adult Conference – St Sebastian’s in Wagga Wagga. We saw a gradual increase in youth membership in traditional Conferences in Maitland/Newcastle Central Council.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 impacted Youth Conferences and programs across NSW were put on hold. Youth members adapted and stepped up to ensure the people we serve still received support. Conferences found new ways to engage, running virtual events, delivering at-home activities to mailboxes, and helping traditional Conferences with voucher and hamper delivery when it was unsafe for older members to do so. Youth volunteers were trained in basic pastoral care skills to meet increased need for social calls to vulnerable people facing isolation.

Schools teams delivered virtual presentations for school sleepouts and accelerated the launch of an online formation program for primary school-aged children. Schools continued to be a major source of fundraising and hands-on support for Christmas and Winter Appeals.