14/06/2013 - 09:26

Consistent service model the key to Vinnies' longevity

14/06/2013 - 09:26

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Consistent service model the key to Vinnies' longevity
HELP: St Vincent de Paul Society state president for WA, Jeff Trew (left), with two of the 2,500-plus volunteers who keep the society functioning. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

The St Vincent de Paul Society was among the state's first not-for-profit organisations to receive a grant from the state lottery commission (now Lotterywest), in 1933.

Prior to receiving that £100 grant, the St Vincent de Paul Perth branch was funded entirely by donations from its members.

Lotterywest's support of Vinnies has been a constant over the years, with the government agency most recently funding the development of Vincentcare, which provides accommodation and support for homeless people suffering from mental illness.

Lotterywest has also backed the Passages Resource Centres in Northbridge and Peel (in a joint venture with the Rotary Clubs of Perth and Mandurah), which offer information and provide opportunities to homeless youth aged 12-25.

Another of the society's long-standing traditions is its operating structure, with the same home visitation model still in use since it started in Western Australia in 1865.

WA state president Jeff Trew believes the continued use of this model, which is unique to the society, is partly responsible for enabling the organisation to survive and remain successful over the years.

"It meets people where they're at, that's the fundamental point," Mr Trew told Business News.

"It provides dignity to people to meet them in their own environment and it shows a great deal of compassion".

The St Vincent Perth branch, or conference, performs around 500 home visits a week in the metropolitan area in order to provide food, clothing and other utilities to people in need.

Mr Trew said the growing need for its services as well as the large number of volunteers willing to support the organisation had also contributed to its ability to continue operating for 148 years.

A thousand volunteers perform home visits and 1,500 operate the St Vincent de Paul stores throughout WA.

In addition, all of its staff, including Mr Trew and the board are volunteers.

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