On 11 December, at Lincoln's Inn Fields, behind the St Vincent de Paul (SVP) volunteers gave out nearly 150 Vinnie Packs to homeless people which contain essentials for keeping warm outdoors, including a woolly hat, gloves, socks, toiletries, thermal blanket and information booklet.
Siobhan Garibaldi, Vice President of the Diocese of Westminster’s SVP Society, explained that the contents of the pack was decided after talking with clients on some of the soup runs they organise around the capital.
"Last year we raised funds and were able to distribute 1,000 packs in London" she said. "They went like hot cakes. Fortunately we were then approached by London firm, Arrow Communications, who sponsored and packed another 1,000 for us as a 'team-building exercise'. This year we have got 5,000 packs. The SVP will be distributing these in several cities around the country."
The project was started up last year, and was endorsed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols who said at the time: “This is an excellent idea. I know that sometimes people are reluctant to make a donation to homeless street sleepers. I am sure they will welcome being able to give a ‘Vinnie Pack’ as a way of helping people living on the streets of London. I thank the St Vincent de Paul Society for this imaginative initiative.”
Tuesday's group of volunteers included Katharina Muller, Interreligious Adviser to the Catholic Bishops' Conference, Dr Monica Janowski and Chris Driscoll from the Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN). The day was also supported by the Gurseva Sikh community project.
At £3, the packs can be bought by people who would like to give them to people on the street. Vinnie Packs can be bought from churches, bookshops or by post from the St Vincent de Paul Society.