Dave Kelly

Friday, 19th of April provided a beautifully sunny morning in Tramore to herald the arrival of a new extension to the Saint Vincent de Paul retail shop at the Summerhill Shopping Centre. The existing shop now houses mostly clothing, while the 3,000 Sq. Ft extension holds mainly furniture.                                                      

Shop manager Sue Keily is one of many full-time staff and roughly 11,500 volunteers who make S.V.P. one of the largest charitable organisations in the country. Sue explains the retail model which is based on the circular economy. Goods  received are taken in,  sold and the profits received are put back onto the local economy meaning that the benefits remain in the area. Customers can earn points by spending money in the shop which can be used in any S.V.P. shop across the south east region. Sue explains using furniture as an example. “Pre owned items are sold within pricing guidelines benchmarked against the market for second hand furniture.”  With regard to stocking the shop, anybody can bring in an item of clothing or furniture. A collection service is available for larger items of furniture. This is great alternative for anybody choosing to move on an item without needing to advertise online, or indeed paying to go to landfill.  

The Circular Economy and Upcycling

Noel Cassidy is regional manager for the south east and brings a wealth of experience to S.V.P from previous managerial positions in the retail sector. He takes great care to point out the distinctive turquoise S.V.P. corporate logo over the shop entrance alongside the brand name 'Vincent living'. The interior of the shop boasts a beautiful mural of the Metalman, a well-known local landmark – and there is a coffee dock in store.

Noel describes the concept of the circular economy in simple terms. He says: “It is our aim to ensure that the items received get a second life or are recycled strictly in accordance with all current and future regulations and thereby avoiding any items ending up in landfill."  In practice this means that clothes received are sorted and unsuitable items are sent to properly regulated recycling. "What we need most are articles in good condition that can be re used such as soft furnishings, kitchen, bedroom and hall furniture." They shop cannot accept electrical goods, broken or damaged items.

All monies raised locally are put back into the local area and  help is given only to those people whose situation may be improved by it. People in need can contact S.V.P. and volunteers will visit people seeking help in order to access the need and the best remedy to assist them. All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence and with the greatest of understanding.


 Volunteering and employment opportunities

S.V.P have linked into other organisations such as the community employment scheme and the Tus scheme providing Government-funded training. Participants can work with the organisation in diverse roles from retail to manual handling to van driving and may move on to employment in the general economy or indeed with S.V.P. Becoming a volunteer is a very straightforward process. An introduction is arranged followed by a trial and the application process is done online with help from staff. Mairead Sykes has been volunteering  for 6 years. She says: “I volunteer on days that suit me. The best aspects for me are meeting people, and the great sense of wellbeing you get from knowing that you are helping others."

A Great Place to Visit

On browsing through the shop, one sees a great variety of products on display. The wonderful thing is that you are looking through the contents of other people’s lives safe in the knowledge that they have been much-loved and are now for somebody new to enjoy. Notable also were the prices  which left even this impoverished old hack to dream of a house full of bespoke furniture and designer labels, even delusions of grandeur are permitted in this shop! The gathering of members and well-wishers was addressed by Noel Cassidy, Annette Bennet, regional president and Michael Power St. Lukes Tramore before the most important job of the day was performed by Michael Power who cut the ribbon to great applause, and still the sun shone.

Vincent’s Tramore, Summerhill Centre, Summerhill, Ballycarnane, Tramore, Co. Waterford. 051 393 518