Welcome to SSVP Scotland Youth.
For many young people, the image of The Society of St Vincent de Paul is older people of the parish standing with a collection box after Mass. If that is all you have known, then you may assume it was an organisation for older people. However, you may be surprised and delighted to discover that the Society was actually started by a young person: a 19-year-old called Frederic Ozanam who was a student in Paris in 1833. He was part of a religious discussion group at his university when another student said
“Yes, prayers are fine but what are you actually doing to put your Catholic faith into action to help others?”
Frederic was sparked into motion. He instantly ran home and brought his firewood to an old man dying of the cold.
From that moment, he knew his life would be dedicated to the service of the poor- that he would rise to the challenge and put his Faith into Action. Along with his friends, they established a Conference of Charity which was later renamed the Society of St Vincent de Paul. They fed, clothed and accommodated the poor on the streets of Paris, seeing the face of Christ in each of them and treating them like a friend. This is what St Vincent himself had done on the same streets, 200 years before.
Today SSVP Scotland has 86 groups in schools across Scotland and are steadily growing. Our Youth groups work just like the adult Conference within a parish. They meet in friendship and prayer, consider who needs help in their school or community, make a plan, then carry out their action.
The simplicity of how these meetings operate was written down by Frederic Ozanam back in 1833 and we still use the same rulebook today.
The format of meetings is to begin with prayer, follow an agenda of discussion and allocating tasks for the weeks ahead and end in payer. The spiritual aspect of the group is very important: we need to ask the Lord to guide our work. Time can also be spent learning about the lives of the Saints and Blessed men and women who started the Society of St Vincent de Paul. Their example is our guide, and we strive to follow the rules they established to help anyone in need.
Some examples of faith in action in which Vinnies groups in schools do are:
- Reaching out to the those who need a friend within school
- Visiting care homes to give the residents some company
- Helping at soup kitchens and foodbanks
- Cleaning their playground and looking after natural areas
- Recycling projects
- Making and sending cards and letters to hospital patients to cheer them up
- And many other creative and caring ideas!
There are benefits for everyone involved in a Vinnies group. For teachers, the CPD opportunities are many and varied. Experience such as this is particularly useful when seeking new positions or preparing for Professional Update. Parish SSVP members often come along to help providing a cherished link between school and parish. The pupils make new friends, learn how to be more caring and how to work as part of a group. And of course, the reason we exist at all – those in need whose lives are made that little bit brighter by the help they receive.
Local SSVP Conferences
There is a wealth of experience in local parish SSVP groups, known as Conferences, across Scotland. Our 2,000 PVG approved members regularly give assistance and support to those in need and always serve them with dignity and respect. If your local parish does not have a Conference, drop us an email and we’ll advise you of the nearest Conference to your school.
Getting to know the ladies and gentlemen from a Conference is great for our Vinnie groups. They can be excellent role models for young people and might even enjoy the same pizza toppings or support the same team! Linking our schools and parish Conferences is vital to allow the pupils to feel a true sense of belonging to the Vincentian family.
Join our Team!
Join our Team! SSVP Scotland are looking for an Administrative
“Arise and bear witness!” – An invitation from Pope Francis to our young people
“Stand up. I appoint you as a witness of what you