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Byron Shire
March 1, 2021

Help still there

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Jan Lang, Ewingsdale

Regarding your article Byron Vinnies’ vollies exit. As a Byron ‘vollie’ of ten years who continues to volunteer, it seems the silent victims of this story are people who regularly seek charitable assistance from the Byron Bay St Vincent de Paul (SVDP) Conference and the Conference members who see them every week. I’m concerned that now those in need may not feel they can seek assistance from our Conference. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Conference members work quietly in the background, doing the core charitable work of the St Vincent de Paul Society. These generous souls, both Catholic and non-Catholic, volunteer their time to help the most vulnerable in the community.

People are usually referred by Centrelink, or through the shop. The shop exists solely to raise money for the charitable works of the SVDP society. Although Catholic in origin, people of all or no religion volunteer for SVDP. The Catholic Church receives none of the revenue raised by the society. All revenue raised goes back into the local community or helps with the charitable works of the society.

The current management restructure of St Vincent de Paul retail shops was inevitable and long overdue.

Mistakes have obviously been made in the transition. I am sorry that shoppers and fellow volunteers have been offended or can’t afford to shop here. However, the majority of our stock is reasonably priced in line with other opshops. The designer clothes and accessories are priced a little higher, as are the better quality homewares. At the Bay Vinnies you can still purchase these items. A lot of op shops now sell these ‘better quality’ items online to get big prices.

I personally have not witnessed locals not shopping in our Vinnie’s shop any more. When I volunteer things seem pretty much the same. A boycott won’t hurt the ‘establishment’ but the most vulnerable in our local community.

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  1. As an out of towner, I have been following the demise of Byron Vinnies store with much disgust on how their volunteers seem to have been treated. Part of their ethos is or was Care, Compassion, Support and Respect which seems to have fallen well short of the mark over the last year. Everything in the shop is donated and all volunteers offer their time freely, to help this charitable business make a profit to pay for shop managers and then whats left assist with their charitable work. My biggest gripe is that no apology has been given publicly or personally to all those former long serving volunteers who were shown the door or just told to go home. The shop management has changed a few times in the last 12mths but it seems their overall lack of compassion has not! The biggest loss in all of this was their volunteers and the whole community has lost their local support network.
    Mistakes in the transition, is quite the tranquil observation for the mass sackings that virtually took place in that store!

    • Unfortunately some editorial license was taken with the Echo story. There was no Mass sackings of volunteers from Vinnie’s Byron Bay, nor were there any mass walkouts. Some people whose job it was to empty the donation bins were no longer required, as because of the enormous cost of dumping peoples rubbish, the bins were removed. Others didn’t like the changes being made to the way the shop runs, left of their own free will. Those who chose not to continue volunteering left over a period of six months. How the shop runs and what changes are made is the responsibility of the Regional Management team not the local volunteers.


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