A new community support centre is opening in Birkenhead to help those affected by poverty, isolation, addiction, and homelessness. St Vincent’s Wirral, run and managed by the St Vincent de Paul Society (SVP), aims to provide a welcoming hub for the people of Wirral.
The opening ceremony on Friday 15 October will be attended by the Right Reverend Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, local MP Mick Whitley, and members of parish SVP groups, who have been instrumental in the creation of St Vincent’s Wirral.
Located on Grange Road West, the building, formerly the Merseyside Centre for Deaf People, hosts a foodbank and a daily afternoon drop-in café, which will reach out to people in need and offer signposting to local service providers who can provide specialised support.
The St Vincent’s Wirral team, led by Manager Kevin Hogan, includes parishioners, local SVP members and volunteers. In creating St Vincent’s Wirral, the SVP identified a range of issues affecting the Wirral community, including alcohol and drugs dependence, homelessness, poverty – particularly for young families, the integration of refugees, and the struggle for individuals to adjust to life after leaving prison.
The SVP has an almost 200-year history of supporting people experiencing any type of poverty irrespective of ideology, faith, ethnicity, age or gender, to help them to restore their dignity and self-worth. During the past 18 months, the SVP has expanded its services to meet the demands of the post-pandemic world, which has seen alarming increases in poverty, debt, loneliness and mental health decline. The volunteering organisation currently has 11 St Vincent’s centres across England and Wales, however, the SVP plans to expand this to cover every diocese, totalling 22 centres.
Hamilton Square, one of the finest squares in the country, was built in 1833, the same year the SVP was founded in Paris. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and exacerbated longstanding inequalities in Birkenhead and across Wirral, leaving many people in a perilous state. St Vincent’s Wirral aims to offer a place of welcome and support to those experiencing hardship, poverty or isolation.
St Vincent’s Wirral Manager Kevin Hogan says, “St Vincent’s Wirral will support anyone in need in the community, and in doing so demonstrate that small acts of kindness can generate change. I hope the Wirral community will come together at the centre and it will become the hub for community, support and connection in our local area.”
SVP National President Helen O’Shea concludes, “We hope that the opening of St Vincent’s Wirral will be a catalyst for positive change on the Wirral, whose community has experienced extreme hardship. Our experience of supporting people at grassroots level will prove essential if we are to tackle the blight of poverty and isolation.”
St Vincent’s Wirral is at 15-19 Grange Rd West, Birkenhead, CH41 4BY.