Community based charities in the North are key to tackling regional inequalities, say the St Vincent de Paul Society

The St Vincent de Paul Society (England & Wales) has published a report that highlights the faith-based charity’s vital role in delivering locally-based support to ‘left behind’ communities.The research – From the Frontline – Tackling Regional Inequalities from the Ground Up – provides a snapshot of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s (SVP) community-based ‘levelling up’ work in 10 regional centres and through locally-based volunteer members, working in 17 of the 20 most deprived communities in England.
The report highlights: A 49 percent increase in the number of requests for help to SVP’s support line, nearly 2300 in the last 12 months, showing an alarming trend of reliance on charities like SVP to deliver frontline services.
In 2022-23 we provided 80,000 meals in our St Vincent’s centres and supported 19,000 people through our foodbanks – an unprecedented level of need
The need to adopt a long-term, bottom-up, rather than a top-down, approach that is rooted in local communities’ lived experiences and social and cultural contexts, if tackling regional inequalities is to be successful.
Government action to rethink its model of delivering local services, through an evaluation of who is delivering local services and how that is being funded.
Elizabeth Palmer, CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society said:” This report amplifies our belief that successful levelling up intervention lies in a wraparound and person-centred approach that can be delivered locally. As a faith-based organisation that is rooted in communities across the country, our blend of tailored local services boosts equality, provides opportunities, supports wellbeing and promotes a sense of community.”
The recommendations in the report, released in an election year, calls on policy makers to tackle regional inequalities in the following ways:
Strengthen the social security system and help people meet their aspirations.  A strong and reliable social security safety net is essential to address regional inequalities and support people in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. Recognise the role charities play in delivering national and local services and review the current model of delivering services for communities. Charities are increasingly delivering services previously provided by state agencies, Local Authorities (LA) and the National Health Service. If national and regional inequalities are to be tackled, the role charities play in tackling poverty must be acknowledged.
Devolve power and funding to local decision-makers. We believe that the key to the success of a long-term strategy to address national and regional inequalities is to help local stakeholders deliver what’s needed by working closely with them – drawing on their knowledge and insight of local challenges and solutions.
The St Vincent de Paul Society (England & Wales) is part of an international Christian voluntary network dedicated to tackling poverty. For the last 180 years we have been working to tackle poverty and its causes by bringing a blend of services and support to people in need in our local communities.

SVP Chorley Buddies, based in Chorley, Lancashire, are a community group run by SVP staff, members and local volunteers. They provide a food poverty support service by running five weekly Good Food Clubs in different areas of the town that help around 1,100 people each week. Clubs’ members pay £10 to join and £5 every time they visit one of the clubs. Every week the club offers an affordable shopping basket that includes a wide range of products such as fresh fruit and vegetables, frozen and tinned food, rice and pasta, bread, cereals, personal hygiene products, and clothing and household items.

St Vincent’s Newcastle, based in the Byker area of the city, provides wraparound support for local people, including food clubs, a warm space that provides hot meals and mental health and wellbeing activities. The centre also help people gain the confidence and workplace skills needed for paid employment, by hosting people referred to them by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Jobcentre Plus, on job placements.  The placements are shaped around individuals’ strengths, interests and development. The centre tries to give people the opportunity to work in different areas and tasks that enable self-development and confidence-building tailored for them.
 A copy of the report From the Frontline – Tackling Regional Inequalities from the Ground Up can be downloaded from our website:   For interviews please contact Media Communication Officer Megan Lawrence at [email protected] or on 07842409302 OR Head of Communications Faith Mall at [email protected],uk or on 07747 062932