By Ann Marie Foley - 23 September, 2020
Rose McGowan has been elected as the new national president for the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP). She is from Dublin and has been a member of SVP since her school days.
“The Society of St Vincent de Paul in Ireland has faced many challenges over its 176 years in the country. But the current COVID-19 pandemic is probably one of the most difficult,” she said following her election.
She added that SVP’s primary concern in restructuring its services under Government COVID-19 restrictions has been the health and safety of those who need help and visits, and of those members, volunteers and staff who provide the services.
Home, hospital and prison visitations are stopped but SVP continues to provide support through telephone, post and online to individuals and families, said Rose McGowan, who added: “This support will become even more necessary in the months ahead as the scale of the unemployment levels and difficulties of those in low-paid sections of our economy become clear.”
She also assured those who need help that they will continue to receive support from volunteers and staff who “have worked tirelessly over the past few months in difficult situations” and they will continue to provide support “as quickly as possible and with the empathy that has been a hallmark of the work of SVP”.
Ms McGowan succeeds Kieran Stafford from Clonmel, Co Tipperary who ended his three-year term of office on 31 August. In thanking Mr Stafford for the work and commitment he brought to the role, she said he also deserves huge thanks for everything he has contributed to SVP over many years.
Since her early days volunteering with the Society, Ms McGowan has been a member of a visitation conference (branch) in North Inner City Dublin. She has also held many positions within the Society such as national vice-president, trustee and Dublin regional president. She is national twinning coordinator in Ireland, and a member of the SSVP Commission for International Aid and Development in Paris.
Rose McGowan lives in Castleknock with her husband Hugh and two adult children.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul has been in Ireland for 176 years, and through a network of over 11,500 volunteers offers home visitation to families, carried out in strict confidence, as the core work of the Society.
SVP operates 234 charity shops, ten hostels, seven resource and daycare centres, five holiday homes, and social housing schemes with 862 units throughout the country. It also provides exam revision classes, after-school activities, homework clubs and breakfast clubs.
Calls for assistance in 2018 numbered more than 160,000, which is more than double the number of calls ten years ago. Almost 50 per cent of requests each month are to seek help with food and fuel. Education cost is another major area where help is sought. In 2018, direct assistance of €32.4 million was given to families and individuals. This includes cash and food assistance (mainly provided through vouchers and food hampers), energy bills (mainly payments direct to utilities and solid fuel suppliers on behalf of families), and supporting children, young people and adults at various stages of their education life cycle.