New SVP Centre to open in Cardiff

An exciting partnership between the Archdiocese of Cardiff, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Parishes of St. Francis Ely, St. Mary’s Canton and Holy Family Fairwater has resultedin the creation of “ST. VINCENT’S COMMUNITY CENTRE, ELY BRIDGE”. This will be housedin the former church of St. Clare which has been transformed into a place where members of the local community will find shelter and support in these increasingly challenging times.

The initiative began at the suggestion of members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at St.Mary’s Canton, together with numerous volunteers from St. Mary’s and Holy Family parish. They were involved in the running of a night shelter at St.Mary’s hall as part of a shared Ecumenical project with other churches across Cardiff. Thisproject has been so successful for clients and volunteers alike and provided food and a safebed to the homeless during the cold months of the winter. The appeal for volunteers to help in this work resulted in a response right across the age range. It is viewed by all involved as a concrete means of putting faith into practice in helping relieve a very severe social problem.

The issues of social deprivation, food poverty, mental health are widespread and need to be addressed at every level of society. “Prevention is better than cure” goes the old saying, and the recognition of the need of support for the poor, the hungry, the lonely and those who aredispossessed both physically and spiritually lies at the heart of this new initiative. The proposal that the former St. Clare’s church in Ely might become a Vincentian CommunityCentre in the west of Cardiff was supported wholeheartedly by the Archdiocese of Cardiff andthe Society of St. Vincent de Paul. It was also welcomed by clergy, headteachers, local counciIIors, pIus Mark Drakeford SM and Kevin Brennan. Most significantly, it has been welcomed by local people who felt there would be great benefit in having a communitysupport centre in lower Ely. This would complement other work already being carried out inthe surrounding area.

The National Officials of the SVP joined with the local SVP group and the Archdiocese ofCardiff in malting this vision a reality. Phase one of the project has seen a major refurbishment of the building and the whole site in order to conform to Health and Safety legislation. It has also laid the foundations for future development. Phase 2 is currently engaged in the provision of a kitchen, a café area, a food bank, computer trainingroom, childrens’ play area etc., Phase 3 will hopefully provide a drop in facility and rooms that can be used for training, counselling and other activities. There is also the possibility of another SVP shop,alongside those which already operate successfully in different parts of the diocese.

The SVP has recently funded the appointment of a Professional Manager. Nathan Harding took up his post in August and will be responsible for servicing the project with a team of volunteers. Thenucleus of support from the local parishes will continue, but the need for volunteers from other parishes across the city and the wider community will ensure the successful expansion of this work.The Vincentian Charism will inspire and sustain this work of the Gospel.

Funding will always be a challenge to voluntary wok such as this. The Archdiocese of Cardiff hasleased the building to the SVP at a peppercorn rent. The local and National SVP has investedheavily in bringing the building up to standard. The continuing sustainability and development of thework will depend on fund raising, donations and other charitable giving. Further information onvolunteering or donating may be obtained from the following:

Deacon Maurice Scanlan mfscanlon@hotmail.co.uk (07747038274)

Peter Sullivan petersuIlivan46@btinternet.co.uk (07906101015)