The St Vincent de Paul Society (England and Wales) has released a new report that highlights the ways in which they are providing support to the most deprived communities in England & Wales.
The research – From the Frontline – Tackling Regional Inequalities from the Ground Up – provides a snapshot of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s (SVP) community-based ‘levelling up’ work in 10 regional centres, including Community Support Projects in Liverpool and Chorley, Lancashire, and through locally-based volunteer members, working in 17 of the 20 most deprived communities in England.
The report highlights:
- More than 11,000 people have been supported by St Vincent’s Wirral based in Birkenhead since April 2022.
- SVP Chorley Buddies Good Food clubs help around 1,100 people each week.
- Nationally, in 2022-23 we provided 80,000 meals in our St Vincent’s centres and supported 19,000 people through our foodbanks – an unprecedented level of need.
- A 49 percent increase in the number of requests for help to SVP’s support line, nearly 2300 in the last 12 months, showing an alarming trend of reliance on charities like SVP to deliver frontline services.
- The need to adopt a long-term, bottom-up, rather than a top-down, approach that is rooted in local communities’ lived experiences and social and cultural contexts, if tackling regional inequalities is to be successful.
SVP Chorley Buddies, based in Chorley, Lancashire, are a community group run by SVP staff, members and local volunteers. They provide a food poverty support service by running five weekly Good Food Clubs in different areas of the town. Clubs’ members pay £10 to join and £5 every time they visit one of the clubs. Every week the club offers an affordable shopping basket that includes a wide range of products such as fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen and tinned food, rice and pasta, bread, cereals, personal hygiene products, and clothing and household items.
St Vincent’s Wirral Centre is in an area of high deprivation and is a vibrant hub based at the heart of the community, supporting residents through a range of programmes and activities, aimed at tackling social, economic and health inequalities.
The recommendations in the report, released in an election year, calls on policy makers to tackle regional inequalities in the following ways:
- Strengthen the social security system and help people meet their aspirations. A strong and reliable social security safety net is essential to address regional inequalities and support people in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.
- Recognise the role charities play in delivering national and local services and review the current model of delivering services for communities. Charities are increasingly delivering services previously provided by state agencies, Local Authorities (LA) and the National Health Service. If national and regional inequalities are to be tackled, the role charities play in tackling poverty must be acknowledged.
- Devolve power and funding to local decision-makers. We believe that the key to the success of a long-term strategy to address national and regional inequalities is to help local stakeholders deliver what’s needed by working closely with them – drawing on their knowledge and insight of local challenges and solutions.
Jeannette Morgan, St Vincent’s Wirral Centre Manager said:” This report amplifies our belief that successful levelling up intervention lies in a wraparound and person-centred approach that can be delivered locally.”
She continues: “Last year, our centre was approached by Wirral Borough Council to deliver essential services for the community on their behalf – funded through the Department for Work and Pension’s Household Support Scheme. This grant allowed us to provide financial support to people and families in need. This model has been successful in delivering tailored support to people, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach.”
The St Vincent de Paul Society (England & Wales) is part of an international Christian voluntary network dedicated to tackling poverty. For the last 180 years we have been working to tackle poverty and its causes by bringing a blend of services and support to people in need in our local communities.
A copy of the report From the Frontline – Tackling Regional Inequalities from the Ground Up can be downloaded from our website: https://svp.org.uk/