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A leading Catholic charity this week named for the Prime Minister’s Big Society Award has reported a marked increase in demand for its services.
David Cameron described the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), which helps the poor and disadvantaged through visits and practical assistance, as being able to “turn concern into action.” He also praised the large number of volunteers that society has, which currently stands at around 10,000.
Last year the SVP made 500,000 visits to 90,000 people, including the elderly, homeless and refugees. The visits are undertaken regardless of the individual’s religion.
The SVP works through 1,000 local groups across the country and along with visit provides debt advice and runs over 40 shops in disadvantaged areas.
A spokeswoman said the charity had seen a 69 per cent rise in take-up for its debt advice last year while there had been a “marked increase” in demand for its soup runs.
She also said the society had noted an increase in referrals made by social service agencies and other charitable groups to local SVP groups.
This year the SVP has already distributed 7,000 “Vinnie packs” to help rough sleepers cope with cold weather conditions including hats, gloves and thermal blankets this winter.
The Big Society award is a weekly award set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010 recognising individuals or groups for outstanding work in the community.