Kyabram Free Press

St Vincent's on a hand-up mission

- By Myles Peterson

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.

 ?? ?? Helping hands: Kyabram St Vincent de Paul’s president John Lilford and treasure Wayne Mulcahy want to offer a hand-up with their hand-outs.
Helping hands: Kyabram St Vincent de Paul’s president John Lilford and treasure Wayne Mulcahy want to offer a hand-up with their hand-outs.

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