The Society provides relief programs throughout the Capital Regional District and in Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Courtenay/Comox, Campbell River, Tashis and Gold River. For areas outside of the Capital Regional District support is provided through volunteer home visits.
In the Capital Regional District of Victoria the Society operates a Social Concern office which is open during the week in order to provide emergency relief, mainly in the form of food and clothing to those in need; to act as a referral service; and to assist in referring people for home visits who live in the Capital Regional District. While the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul has its origin with members of the Catholic Faith, the Society assists any person regardless of race or religion.
Anyone requiring assistance with food and/or clothing should come to the Social Concern Office in person. Those living in Sooke, Sidney or Langford can contact (250)382-0712. Contact Us
People who are contacting the Social Concern office for the first time and have care of dependent children, or are seniors (55+) are also eligible for a visit from a home visit volunteer who will then discuss their needs and provide appropriate assistance, such as vouchers for food, clothing and furniture or personal advocacy to obtain other services. These meetings take place in the home or a public place. Learn more about home visits.
Persons who are house bound due to handicaps or infirmity are also encouraged to phone the Social Concern Office for a home visit when emergency situations arise.
The Social Concern Office is set up to offer emergency assistance for food or clothing, that is, assistance required because of difficult circumstances arising that were perhaps unforeseen and beyond the control of the individual. The Society is able to assist persons in such circumstances over a limited period of time but does not have the resources to assist people over the long term.
The Social Concern Office and the volunteer home visitors are able to provide emergency assistance in additional ways:
- vouchers for used household items such as pots, pans, dishes, blankets, linens, and bedding
- vouchers for used furniture may only be issued by the home visitors and, therefore, a home visit is required for furniture assistance. For persons on Social Assistance, home visits for furniture assistance will be provided only when the Ministry of Human Resources has refused a person’s application for a furniture crisis grant. Vouchers issued are for used furniture only.
- vouchers for clothing
- emergency transportation – i.e. bus fare for confirmed medical appointments
- referral to other agencies for assistance where you can get other needed services, counselling or treatment
- advocacy – acting on your behalf if you feel you are not receiving the service you are eligible for from other agencies
- hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, etc.
- bread and pastries donated by generous proprietors across Victoria
- layettes – complete layettes to bring the baby home from the hospital are given to needy families
The Saint Vincent de Paul Society of Vancouver Island has been supporting people in need in Victoria, BC since 1916. Our mission is focussed on impacting the lives of people affected by poverty through emergency relief services, supportive and affordable housing, childcare, and skill-building programming. Within our support services we maintain a focus and commitment to addressing the root causes that contribute to poverty in our community. As such we have made the goals of food security; food literacy; and advocacy for access to healthy, affordable food our long-standing priorities.
The Society has recently become a Good Food Organization as a natural progression towards these goals, as it will benefit our organization in the following ways:
- We send a strong message to our service users, volunteers and staff that we are committed to ‘good food’ work.
- We build our capacity through access to resources, programs, and funding streams available through Community Food Centre’s Canada that we could not access in other ways.
- We benefit from aligning with similar-minded organizations and programs.
The Social Concern Office has partnered with local Fairways grocery stores to reclaim hundreds of pounds of fruit and vegetables that are no longer on their grocery store shelves, to be cleaned, sorted, and set out in our food pantry. Inspired by the Good Food Organizations reference manual Beyond the Emergency: How to evolve your foodbank into a force for change, we have successfully transitioning our emergency food bank to more of a community hub. We have already converted our hamper program to an access food pantry that allows people to shop for their own choices. To change the atmosphere of our Social Concern Office from one of emergency relief to a community hub, the walls in our newly relocated 5000 square foot space are being decorated with artists from other downtown support providers’ existing art programs in Victoria, creating an urban art gallery for their work in our prime downtown location. To replace our programming, we are inviting in local support programs and services to share their information with our visitors while they wait their turn in the food pantry. We serve on average 2000 visitors per month at the Social Concern Office and want to make sure the people visiting are able to enter a welcoming, inviting space that provides them with knowledge as well as emergency food and relief. We hope to expand our offerings to include a community garden and kitchen program in future.
We are a sustainably managed organization governed by the Rule and Statutes of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul Canada, a Catholic lay organization. As such we are mandated to work both at the individual level, meeting people where they are currently at; and at a community level, advocating for social justice. In the food security realm, we demonstrate this social justice advocacy through our role as a founding member of the Foodshare Network in Victoria, an organization that brings emergency food providers together to discuss policy and build a strong voice. The Foodshare Network has spearheaded food security programming such as partnering with grocery stores to establish a food reclamation program, which links food security programs by establishing a Give Food Get Food distribution network to share surplus food within our programs.
We are committed to the Good Food Principles and growing our programming to build our capacity in this area. More than 170 people make up our Society membership and our Society is supported by 75 staff and 150 volunteers. Our new emergency food distribution model allows our visitors to select the food they need from a budgeted number of items. This provides for a more dignified experience for our visitors and a more familiar grocery-store-like experience.