Thank you most sincerely for the donations to the Winter Appeal. We appreciate that everyone’s experience of 2020 has been unlike anything we have been through over the last decades. We have all been doing it tough in so many different ways.
The SVDP Parkville Conference has been very busy this year responding to requests for assistance from people living in the Carlton/Parkville area. Initially, a large proportion of these requests came from the residents of the high-rise complexes within the area bounded by Elgin, Lygon, Princes and Nicholson Streets. The advent of the Covid-19 crisis saw many formerly homeless people being accommodated in hotels in and around Melbourne including Parkville, resulting in numerous requests for assistance. The health crisis also saw changes in how conference members responded to requests. Requests for assistance were dealt with in such a way that the health and safety of Conference members and those being visited was not compromised.
In the first half of this year, 180 calls were received for assistance and the value of such assistance given amounted to $16,700. The largest proportion of these requests was for food and these were dealt with primarily by the supply of Woolworths vouchers. Food vouchers accounted for 57% of the total value of the assistance from December to June.
As the financial year for 2019/20 came to an end and the Conference was in a position to carry forward some funds as there was reduced expenditure due to the isolation, and increased grants from the Federal Government. During the financial year the Conference provided support to the value of $48,000 in response to calls to the St Vincent de Paul hot line. In addition to the Woolworths Grocery vouchers, support included purchase of furniture and white goods, payment of utility bills, pharmacy support, shoes for students and the provision of fruit for two indigenous schools in the Northern Territory.
The Conference has continued assisting tertiary students. In the 2018/19 year the Conference carried forward funds from a donation which provided significant support to RMIT students. Support for RMIT has been running since 2007 and was led by John Curwood and Dennis Green. Grants to RMIT students focussed on providing computer software that enhanced the educational prospects for those with disabilities, e.g. dyslexia, chronic fatigue syndrome, vision impairment and difficulty in using keyboards due to hand impairment.
The Parkville Conference has also been providing assistance to the ACU since 2014. Such support has also focussed primarily on disability support. Early this year, five laptop computers were provided to the Conference and these were donated for student use in ACU’s Clemente Program. This program is jointly operated by ACU and Catholic Care. It provides a pathway to university study for selected low-income mature age students with a background of multiple disability and disadvantage. These, in the majority of cases, had no previous history of university study. The Winter Appeal for St Vincent de Paul Parkville Conference, conducted through the website raised $5,000. Usually The Appeal at St Carthage’s Sunday Masses would raise $30,000.
In the first six months of this year, the Conference donated $2000 to Sacred Heart Primary School in Fitzroy for the purchase of school shoes for the students. Approximately 97% of the families with children at the school receive Centrelink benefits so the donation was most appreciated. The Conference has reduced expenditure this year for the universities and schools as spending has been confined within the limits of the funds received from the parishioners from St Carthage’s Parkville and the Magistrates’ Court Poor Box.
St Vincent de Paul Mobile Mission in Fitzroy works closely with the Parkville Conference. This mission provides food and clothing for the homeless, poor inner-city residents and clients referred by other charity agencies. In a typical week, approximately 25 clients may be provided with a set of clothing and 75 -100 with a food parcel, although due to Covid 19 restrictions the Mission has been temporarily closed. The Mission also stocks a clothing store at the long stay Psychiatric Unit of St Vincent’s Hospital, as some patients are admitted with only the clothing they arrive in often because they have been too sick to care for their belongings. When there has been a shortfall in the Mission’s funds, or assistance has been needed to collect food from Food Bank, the Parkville Conference has been able to step in and help.
At the start of this calendar year, the Conference membership comprised 20 members, 18 of whom carried out regular visits every two weeks in response to requests for assistance. The retirement of two long serving members in the first half of this year has thinned the ranks and created issues when constructing the visitation roster. New members would be most welcome. The only other time required by members is the attendance at the Conference meeting once a month.
The SVDP Parkville Conference exists thanks to the strong support of our Parish priest and the St Carthage’s parishioners. It is because of the Conference’s supporters that the disadvantaged and marginalised people in our community feel reassured when they reach out for assistance.
Enquiries for SVDP membership:
David [0412 553 720]
Peter [0413 754 523]
PO Box 175, Parkville, Victoria 3052