Kyabram Free Press
St Vincent's on a hand-up mission
Continuing our series on the wealth of help available in Kyabram for those facing tough times, volunteer staff at St Vincent De Paul say they are on a mission to lift those in need of help out of the poverty cycle.
The 170-year-old global organisation holds a well-earned reputation for providing assistance without judgment and Kyabram ‘Vinnies’ president John Lilford wants the community to know his organisation offers a wide range of services.
Assistance from food to accommodation to vouchers for fuel and clothing can be provided almost immediately, according to Mr Lilford, and no family or individual need suffer unnecessarily, whatever the cause of their predicament.
“People that are on hard times — we're able to help them out with food, beverages, fuel, a whole range of things,” Mr Lilford said.
The organisation will also assist liaising with government and other not-forprofit organisations, building on years of experience assisting the community, to organise accommodation or other necessities, according to Mr Lilford.
“We will represent them, be an advocate for them, whether it's for housing or because they got into a bit of financial strife.”
Mr Lilford cited numerous examples of finding immediate accommodation for those requiring it and said the organisation assisted around 20 individuals and families per week.
Treasurer Wayne Mulcahy stressed the primary goal of St Vincent’s was to give those it served a lasting solution to their problems.
“Our mantra is that we are here to give a hand-up, not just a handout,” he said.
“The aim is to try and support getting people back on their feet, so they can look after themselves and not depend on us (but) we're always here as a backstop.”
COVID-19 restrictions have meant changes to how St Vincent’s conducts its charity work, with most consultations changing to phone-based. The volunteer staff of some 20 members will do their best to deliver what is needed in a contactless manner.
The president and treasurer also wanted to thank staff, students and families of local Catholic schools who had donated non-perishable food and clothing as part of the annual winter appeal.
And while St Vincent’s is very much a Catholic organisation, Mr Lilford was keen to stress both its volunteers and those they helped come from all backgrounds and walks of life.
“We have five volunteers from outside the church and we will help anyone in need,” Mr Lilford said.
The organisation is also looking for more volunteers, particularly young people.
“Younger people are the majority of who we help, so we would like more of them in our ranks to help make that connection,” Mr Lilford, who has himself been volunteering for 20 years, said.
“One of the main reasons we do this is that all of us are very lucky that we have never had a need. We're very fortunate to have what we have, and we have seen some people that aren't as fortunate – so, we just like to be able to help people out.”
St Vincent’s has recently changed the opening hours of its Allan St office to Monday and Friday from 1pm to 4pm, and the second and fourth Wednesday monthly from 6pm to 8pm.
Anyone requiring an appointment to discuss any matter is encouraged to phone 03 5853 2473 and a volunteer will be in touch to arrange an appointment.