On February 20 Bishop Peter Collins formally opened and blessed SVP’s third house for the homeless in North Norfolk, an event celebrated by conference members and clergy from local Christian communities.
The Temporary Emergency Accommodation House is now operational for a further two homeless families. The whole project of three properties now protects up to four families and six single individuals at any one time. Since December 2019 the Project has protected 100 lives from homelessness, including 52 children, who have moved on to permanent new homes.
Amélie House, named after the saintly wife of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, who founded the SVP, is also a part of an international Vincentian initiative started in 2018 that aims to improve and transform the lives of 10,000 homeless people around the world by 2023.
Amélie outlived Frederic by 40 years, during which time she actively supported many good causes including alleviating the suffering of poor families in Paris suburbs and helping young girls in distress.
The North Norfolk Conference has been supporting street homeless people in need of emergency accommodation since 2012. This first started with a temporary loan and leasing house arrangement but in December 2019 the SVP Society purchased their first permanent house in the area. St Vincent’s House became operational providing a safe home for two large families. A second unit, Blessed Rosalie Rendu House, was opened by Bishop Alan Hopes in February of last year; that time supporting up to six single homeless individuals.
Following North Norfolk’s success of these two properties, which have had high occupancy rates, the SVP Society were confidently able to authorise a further project expansion to establish a third House, operational from August last year, this time supporting an additional two families. The result was that Society Project Manager Joey Garande assisted by Caretaker Liam Peers were able to show Bishop Peter around Amélie House, prior to a blessing ceremony and formal opening.
Bishop Peter’s tour and opening ceremony included the blessing of a plaque dedicating the house to Amélie Ozanam, wife of the SVP Society founder Frédéric Ozanam.
The occasion was video linked to the church hall at Our Lady of Refuge, Cromer, to 21 guests, senior SVP Society staff and North Norfolk SVP conference members.
The Bishop returned to the Cromer church for refreshments and to meet conference members and guests. Among them SVP Trustee Adrian Abel attended as well as CEO Elizabeth Palmer, Finance Director Christine Knight and Director of Social Enterprise, Helen Voyce. They were delighted with the opening and were pursuing actions to plan similar projects in other parts of the country.
Conference President Michael McMahon thanked all who contributed to this successful phase and to those who have contributed to the running of the houses, especially the Alive in Faith Outreach Fund and the local Church of England Benefices of Matlaske and West Runton whose parishioners have supplemented funds from St Joseph’s, Sheringham and Sacred Heart, North Walsham parishes.
Pictured above is Bishop Peter with SVP Project Manager Joey Garande, Caretaker Liam Peers, SVP Society CEO Elizabeth Palmer and Priest Administrator Peter Wygnański celebrating outside Our Lady of Refuge, Cromer after the blessing and formal opening of Amélie House.