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Stories

St Vincent de Paul School’s Soup Van Empowerment Project

The St Vincent de Paul Society’s Schools Soup Van Empowerment Project offers an opportunity for schools to engage with the St Vincent de Paul Society in a capacity which enables young people to be active in learning about mission, social justice and response, and to live their faith through meaningful action.

It aligns the Vincentian mission of “living the gospel mission” with the Catholic Education Melbourne’s vision of  “an outstanding Catholic education that equips our young people with the knowledge, skills, hope and optimism to live meaningful lives and shape and enrich the world around them”.

With the assistance provided by the Melbourne Catholic Archbishop’s Charitable Fund, the Schools Soup Van Empowerment Project (SSVEP) offers schools a one day street retreat that will focus on a social justice experience and mission. This includes an opportunity to volunteer on one of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Soup Vans, which will complement the social justice experience that they have already undertaken.

The project needs to have professional expertise to support and offer this important educational opportunity for the young people in our schools, so the funding assisted in employing a staff member for three days per week, to build an appropriate program for the project’s intended purpose.

Subsequent to the successful pilot with Parade College, teachers from multiple Catholic Colleges were guided through an experience of the program as a precursor to taking their students on the Soup Van during 2018. This gave them the opportunity to fully understand the experience, overcome their own initial reactions to meeting those who the Soup Vans assist, and be well prepared to bring students to the program.

Feedback was collected from students, teachers and others who participated in the pilot program. Some key examples of feedback and learnings from the program include:
  • ‘It was awesome, I wish every student from my school got to experience this.’
  • ‘It was such a great experience and I can't wait to be more involved!’
  • ‘The importance of respecting the dignity and diverse life experiences of all people that come to the soup vans.’
  • ‘I will continue to show the love of God to all that I meet’
People assisted by the Soup Van have been visibly moved through their interactions with the school students, and commented that this experience gave them hope and joy.
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