The Voluntary Solidarity Fund international

Project requirements

The VSF is an organisation that collects and distributes funds to established programmes that are already acting to counter the dilapidating effects of socio-economic decay in cities around the world. We help to boost their current programmes, enabling them to extend their reach and scale up the work they are already doing. The funds we collect goes to organisations that are experienced, have a track-record and are audited to ensure transparency and full compliance with regulations.

Very often they will have a deep local footprint within their community, working closely with local parishes. We support programmes that fall into these three categories: Integration of marginalised communities, education through volunteers, grants and scholarships as well as micro-leading and mentorship for entrepreneurs.

THE THREE PILARS

Integration

Our aim is to integrate the marginalised communities; people who are victims of social accidents. For example, homeless people, refugees, those with mental health trauma, victims of drug or alcohol addiction, as well as ex-inmates. The programmes we fund provide the support required to reintegrate individuals back into society through specialised programmes geared toward each specific area of need. It is incredibly difficult to help people who live in the margins of society. It requires scaling mental barriers, dealing with a lack of self-esteem and often, it can even require fighting against the will of the individual in order to reach a place of acceptance and ultimate improvement. This kind of therapy can only be accomplished by qualified and experienced volunteers and professionals who possess the talent, the knowledge, the experience and the mental strength to hold the hand of socially excluded individuals.

Education

There is a complex link between poverty and education, without education, individuals have few opportunities to improve the position in which they find themselves. The programmes we support provide grants and scholarships to individuals who are capable and eager to study a trade or discipline in order to improve their chances of financial independence. A lack of education is not only a problem facing children; adults of all ages are missing the elementary tools required to better their situation and stand on their own two feet. For example, 20% of British citizens say they can’t read their bank statement. Today it is often as simple as teaching computer skills, smartphone and social media skills as well as basic finance. This knowledge gap can be bridged by volunteers who spend time showing others these fundamental skills through the organisations we support.

Micro-lending

Often individual entrepreneurs are capable of earning a living through their own trade but they are not able to access credit through the conventional means, or may be unable to fulfil the required payment terms. These individuals have many of the skills and knowledge to become successful, but they lack one vital piece of the puzzle; working capital. By helping these entrepreneurs with interest-free loans, they are able to sustain themselves and repay the capital which builds a system of 'revolving loans'. We support programmes that also provide mentorship for these small business owners, this not only ensures accountability but gives them the best chance of becoming successful, profitable and sustainable.

PILOT PROJECTS

The following programmes are the pilot projects, each showing alignment with our core principles. The VSF International is always looking for projects to support, if you can advocate a project that aligns with our requirements, please complete the form at bottom of this page which will bring them to our attention.

The Community of Sant’Egidio

Madrid

The Community of Sant’Egidio has been present in Madrid since 1988, helping the most deprived people: homeless, children, families, the elderly, immigrants and refugees. Key areas they focus on are The School of Peace of Pan Bendito, the day centre for the homeless and ‘Friends on the Street’ service. The care for pregnant women and their young children, the care and advice for the immigrant population and the celebration of the Christmas lunch, Birthdays, and other particularly emotional events for beneficiaries.

Their next project is the rehabilitation of a building ceded by the Archbishopric of Madrid. The building is located in the centre of Madrid (c / Larra, 9. 28004 Madrid) and has 1,500m2 distributed over five floors. The building will be used for the following purposes: Emergency accommodation for people in difficulty, stable housing for the elderly who are alone and have very few resources, training rooms mainly for people in social exclusion; foreigners and refugees. It will also have an industrial kitchen for the preparation of meals and well as a selection of multipurpose rooms.

Visit: www.santegidiomadrid.org

Villa Nazareth

Rome

The ‘Collegio universitario Villa Nazareth’ was founded in 1946 by Mons Domenico Tardini, who became Cardinal and Secretary of State under Pope John XXIII. With an excellent academic curriculum, the residential college in Rome admits around 120 university level students, both male and female, totally free of charge. These students and their families are unable to sustain the cost of their studies. Funding is obtained through donations.

Admission is based on competitive open examinations. Those awarded a scholarship can choose among State, private or pontifical Universities and are made accountable with a demanding personal education process. They receive quality living space, didactical support for study and research, cultural activities and the possibility of international exchange. A network of similar residences are being developed in several Italian cities. Archbishop Claudio M. Celli, former President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and international Assistant to the Fondazione Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice, is Executive Vice-Chairman of Villa Nazareth. Pope Francis visited the college on June 18, 2016 and freely exchanged views with students.

Visit: www.villanazareth.org

Caritas Malta

Malta

Caritas Malta reaches out to people in need through several parishes based in Malta by coordinating the setting up of Diaconia Commissions within those parishes and providing advice and support in their operations. Diaconia Commissions seek to identify persons and families in need and give them assistance in the Christian spirit.

Caritas Malta is also very active in the rehabilitation of individuals from substance abuse, providing immediate support to victims of domestic violence, and rehabilitation for those in their last two years of their prison term. Caritas Malta psychologists and social workers also give counselling to persons with personal, social, psychological, emotional or psycho-spiritual issues. They deal with over 1,500 cases each year.

Through its Helpage programme, Caritas Malta provides a service that aims to improve the quality of life of older people through social clubs in parishes, home visits and inter-generational activities. VSF Malta and The VSF International will provide support to Caritas Malta, in particular to aid the capacity of individuals to stand on their own two feet through solidarity in practice.

VSF-supported micro loans will be available through partner financial institutions. This will be offered to individuals who have a viable business project but no collateral to secure a traditional business loan. This is an opportunity for a dignified contribution to society from individuals who otherwise are at risk of falling behind.

Visit: www.caritasmalta.org

The Order of Malta’s prison ministry work

London Project

The Order of Malta actively works with prisoners and their families all over the world. These are arguably some of the most marginalised and excluded individuals in society, with multiple and complex needs. They have a history of multiple hardship: poverty, care, abuse, family breakdown and difficulties in school. Their lives have been extremely disadvantaged and with no positive role models, they become trapped in a revolving cycle of addictive and offending behaviour. The work of the Order of Malta supports those determined to break this cycle of dependency and turn their lives around.

The Order’s work with prisoners focuses around helping to prepare them for life after prison, by providing help in overcoming addiction, skills training and education, assistance with finding a place to live and a job and also by helping prisoners families; particularly their children though mentorship and support from members and volunteers.

In South London, accommodation and counselling is provided to 20 ex-offenders who have shown a commitment to changing their lives on release from prison. The housing project provides an atmosphere in which they feel valued, supported and accepted. Re-offending rates and drug relapse rates are very low for those who have benefitted from this programme. Most move on to lead independent lives in full employment and in some cases, run their own businesses.

Visit: www.forgottenpeople.org

San Gennaro

Naples

Fondazione San Gennaro was established by Fr Antonio Loffredo in a depressed area of central Naples, Rione Sanità, with the aim of creating work opportunities for young people by coordinating several existing entities and always working from the bottom-up. The initiative aims at creating cooperatives among the young working towards the conservation and promotion of local works of art and traditions. The founders contributed an initial capital of €500.000 which was matched by an equivalent donation from the State-led Fondazione del Sud. Since its origins, dating back 50 years ago, Fondazione San Gennaro has set up many local grassroots cooperatives, involving hundreds of young members, providing them a positive work experience and opportunity to gain professional training in cultural and artistic fields.

Visit: www.fondazionesangennaro.org

Advocate a project

The VSF International is always looking for projects to support, if you can advocate a project that aligns with our requirements, please complete the form below which will bring them to our attention.