Archbishop Nichols with John Mason and Siobhan Garibaldi at launch of Vinnie Packs
Heartless thieves have stolen the contents of 5,000 winter survival packs being prepared by St Vincent De Paul Society volunteers for distribution to people living on the streets this winter. They are valued at about £11,000.
The 'Vinnie Packs', which contained a thermal hat, gloves, socks, space blanket, toothpaste, toothbrush, pen and information leaflet, were due to be assembled at a warehouse in Leeds.
Last year in a pilot scheme, 1,000 packs were launched by Archbishop Vincent Nichols at Archbishops House, Westminster. There was such a demand for them around the UK, that within three weeks they had all been given away, mostly through soup runs and parish homeless projects. SVP volunteers managed to put together a further 1,500 packs to distribute which were soon snapped up.
This year, the charity was planning to give out 5,000 Vinnie Packs. They still hope they will be able to replace the lost packs before the cold weather sets in.
Siobhan Garibaldi from Westminster SVP told ICN: "The names of 146 homeless people who died were read out at a service in St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square last November. There just aren't enough hostel places and for various other reasons, people can't find a roof for the night. . These packs offer a little bit of comfort to those living on the streets - and when temperatures plummet, a space blanket and thermal clothing can stop someone from getting hypothermia."
"We started getting organised early this year and we really bought the best quality items we could find. The hats had £15 labels on them, although we did get them for less then that because we bought them in bulk. The toothbrushes were distinctive branded Biobright and were revolving!
If anyone has any information about the theft they should contact West Yorkshire Police. The crime number is: 13120382528.
The SVP is now urgently seeking suppliers to replace the stolen goods. If anyone wants to sponsor a Vinnie Pack, at a suggested donation of £3 a pack, cheques made payable to 'SVP' could be sent to St Jude's, Marshall Street, Leeds, LS11 9EH clearly marked Vinnie Packs. If you have any enquiries please call Siobhan on: 07929 490090.