Date of publication: 12/11/2019

Conference on the Safeguarding of People Assisted by the SSVP

Council General International

Sponsored by our brothers and sisters of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul England and Wales, a conference on the safeguarding of people assisted by the SSVP was held October 25 to 27 at the CGI headquarters in Paris. This conference addressed issues such as abuse or unfavourable treatment, with special focus on child neglect.

Vincentian officials from the five continents attended this meeting led by the CGI; the 2nd Vice-president General Deputy, Sebastián Gramajo; and the Treasurer General, Larry Tuomey who read a PGI’s message as follows:

“The SSVP’s General Confederation shares this concern. For this reason, we are rolling our sleeves up while adopting lines of action and a protocol according to the principles on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons set out in the Apostolic Letter motu proprio issued by the Supreme Pontiff and by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, of which we are members.”

The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is mindful of the responsibility it bears since it helps physically, socially and economically disadvantaged people, as well as those individuals suffering from the effects of emotional deprivation or neglect. Hence, they all need our respect and care. For this reason, we must observe the SSVP’s Rule and Statutes and take care of all these people as they deserve. It is important to implement safety mechanisms that keep malevolent people away and prevent wrongdoing towards those whom the SSVP serves with such zeal.

The main outcome in safeguarding the people assisted by the SSVP is that each National Council shall address this issue and, as a civil association, abide by the related regulations laid down in each country, duly reporting to the relevant authorities in this regard, always cooperating with the justice system and seeking transparency in defence of the rights of those who are in vulnerable situations, which is ultimately the SSVP’s mission.

There are some good practices and advice for safeguarding the most vulnerable; namely, the protection of the most needy, which begins with the human and Christian qualities of those who are members of the SSVP. Hence, the recruitment of members, volunteers or technical staff is rigorously analysed, to then be properly trained. Furthermore, it is advisable that some activities such as home visits or other sensitive activities are carried out in groups or in pairs, thus avoiding any possible irregular situation. 

This event reinforced the SSVP’s commitment towards those assisted, according to the Vincentian motto of ‘Do good while doing well’, seeking to improve the service provided to our neighbour whom we respect as our brother and sister.

In Nairobi, during the forthcoming 2020 CGI’s annual meeting, this issue will be discussed in depth again. In the meantime, a team of Vincentians representing members from all over the world will work on the best way for all SSVP countries to adopt a protocol for safeguarding the people assisted, with special emphasis on minors.