Seeking out to meet with the poorest of the poor, wherever they live.
When the Saint Vincent de Paul Society was founded almost two centuries ago, its action was based on visiting people in their homes. For Ozanam and his companions, this work involved seeking out poor people living in the slums of 19th-century Paris, establishing human, fraternal relationships with them and alleviating their suffering.
Nowadays, home visiting is more than ever at the heart of the SSVP’s action, even though the notion of ‘home’ has broadened due to profound changes in society and the emergence of new forms of poverty. The SSVP’s volunteers therefore visit people on the streets, in prisons, hospitals, hospices, orphanages, displaced persons’ camps and reception centres, etc., as well as in their homes.
One of the SSVP’s hallmarks is local action initiated by volunteers who live locally. The society does not send out staff into the field, but relies instead on an international network of volunteers. These volunteers take action close to home and respond to local needs in an environment they know like the back of their hand. As a result, the Society’s action throughout the world is extremely diverse: healthcare, agriculture, education, housing, professional training, assisting elderly, disabled, lonely and excluded people, etc. Thanks to donations, the Society has funds to provide emergency aid and rehabilitation for victims of natural and humanitarian disasters, as well as finance development projects.