6) headed "Justice" in which, in discussing the effectiveness of housing associations, he asks whether the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, in re-appraising its role. is considering the idea that the most effective activity in regard to the housing problem is to try and influence public opinion.
It is necessary for a society such as the S.V.P. to take a close look at its role in the Church, and in society from time to time, especially with the publication of the views expressed in -The Church 2000" and of the report from the Justice and Peace Commission.
The S.V.P. was founded in 1833. in response to Christian concern, to go out and meet those in need. face to face. at the simplest level of human contact. This is still necessary today. The S.V.P. must always act as a first aid organisation as long as there are people suffering in any kind of need.
This, however. does not mean that the S.V.P. cannot point out needs that have perhaps passed unnoticed. It can. because of this personal contact with need. see how legislation affects those it is designed to help; it can see and know the gaps, and can produce statistics to support this personal knowledge. These facts can then be used by those organisations with a political side to their work to influence Government.
Advertising has been foreign to the society, and personal advertising will always be so. But today. with the press and television such a strong force in moulding public opinion, the S.V.P.. is beginning to realise that the symptoms of need must be advertised so that others will not only give of their precious time by joining with us in helping those in need but will also be made aware of the importance of treating the cause of these needs and work for Justice.
The St. Vincent's Housing Association in London and Manchester was set up in answer to a particular need. Until this need ceases to exist the society must care, together with many other housing associations, for those human beings who are the victims of this social ill.
The fact that these housing associations are being looked at, especially by an M.P., is surely a good sign, for it means that they have succeeded in pointing out a need.
Together with many others. the S.V.P. prays for the day when our housing association is unnecessary, but until then may it act both as a comfort to the homeless and a spur to the conscience of society to right the wrong that exists.
President, Society of St.
Vincent de Paul, Council of England and Wales. 24 George Street, London, W.I.