The Jesuits in Scotland have launched a new volunteering initiative to support some of the most disadvantaged individuals and communities in Glasgow.
Sixteen placements are available, offering volunteers the chance to become involved with a wide variety of work throughout the city. At present, they are comprised of parents and past pupils of St Aloysius’ College, parishioners and students, both Catholics and non-Catholics. All need to be committed to the Ignatian principle of service for others, combined with prayer and reflection.
“To date, volunteers already recruited have a wide range of life experiences,” says GJV Co-ordinator, Lindsay Renucci. “Some are students; others have busy careers, whilst others are not working or retired. All bring precious gifts and talents to share with those less fortunate.”
Once a month, volunteers will come together at the Ignatian Spirituality Centre and be led in small groups in spiritual reflection by Father Tom McGuinness, the Director of the Centre. “Reflection is an important part of understanding our faith in greater depth and how that faith may be used to benefit the wider community,” explained Lindsay. “Although Ignatian in ethos, it is important to state that GJV is an ecumenical volunteer programme, welcoming all those with an active Christian faith.”
The Jesuits have been working in Glasgow since the 1850s. Much of their ministry in that time has been in areas of enormous poverty and deprivation. There are still those who face daily struggles of the most basic kind – access to warmth, sustenance, employment, education and decent housing.
“In this context,” said Lindsay Renucci, “the Jesuit tenet of social justice, of being men and women for others, employed within a volunteering context, could have an enormous impact on those most needy – and on the volunteers themselves.”
For some sections of Scottish society, a seemingly new social issue is that of immigration. ‘The large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers within Glasgow has led to increasing tension within certain communities. Social exclusion through ignorance and fear has a debilitating effect on society, and therefore integrating displaced peoples within communities must be a priority.’
Placements for volunteers include
The Mungo Foundation – an umbrella charity of the Archdiocese of Glasgow, which operates several outreach projects for young homeless, those with addiction issues and assisted living projects for the physically disabled;
Starter Packs, a small charity based in one of the most deprived areas of the city, which provides packs of basic household items for families and individuals who have secured a permanent tenancy after a period of homelessness;
The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, responsible for over 500 carers in the west end area of Glasgow alone;
Glasgow City Mission, a Scottish Christian charity which has been working in Glasgow since 1826. It works alongside vulnerable people of all ages and circumstances, with 90 volunteers helping out along the way.
Volunteers should be aged 18+ (no upper age limit), and be able to commit 2 – 8 hours weekly to their placement, which is allocated after discussion. For more information, contact Lindsay Renucci who is based at St Aloysius’ College. She can be contacted on 0141 331 9254 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org