The Council General International (CGI) has always been concerned about the reputation of our Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) in the eyes of civil society, especially with regard to the people assisted, collaborators (employees), donors, the Holy Church and governments. After all, it is essential to have credibility and a good image with all our stakeholders if we wish to accomplish our mission in life: to keep on serving the poor to a greater extent.
The CGI’s attention was drawn to a very positive initiative which is being carried out in several countries: the safeguarding (protection and security) of people assisted by the SSVP, both in home visits and Special Works (especially nursing houses and child day-care centers). Moreover, it is essential for the Society to formulate safeguarding measures as a framework to prevent harm or any kind of harassment. In the workplace, it is crucial to avoid deviations, which may give rise to occupational, moral and even legal issues in the future.
To this end, the CGI organized a training day on this issue in October 2019, which gathered experts from England and Australia, as well as Board members and the 12 Territorial Vice Presidents (ITVPs). Later on, in October 2020, the SSVP’s Safeguarding Protocol was approved at the CGI’s Annual Meeting, which was held virtually from Paris, with the vote in favor by delegates of all the countries present.
This Protocol comprises a core set of standards to safeguard vulnerable adults, children and young people, as set out in the Apostolic Letter issued by Pope Francis instituting the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, of which the SSVP is part of officially. In 2021, this Protocol will be detailed, including situations and practical examples which may somehow harm the image of the SSVP due to harmful conduct. The regulation will set out ethical recommendations, such as visiting children only in the presence of two or more adults, and never giving donations or aid conditional on any kind of proselytism or religious counterpart.
“It is essential to put in place safeguarding mechanisms that keep ill-intentioned people away and to avoid transgressions, irregularities or deviations of purpose concerning the services intended for those whom the SSVP serves with so much zeal and love. The SSVP’s training courses also have to be adapted to this new scenario so that new members are properly trained on this issue”, stated the 16th President General, brother Renato Lima.
With the Protocol unanimously approved by the countries at the 2020 CGI Annual Meeting, each National or Superior Council could discuss the issue internally and adapt the Protocol according to each situation.
Click here to read full Protocol.