To tackle homelessness we have to listen – listen to those who have experience of rough sleeping, living in slums, or being a refugee. One of the best ways to achieve this is to tell a story: a story of homelessness, or of a homelessness project, or of a volunteer.

Oscar Romero famously encouraged us to be the ‘voice of the voiceless’.

Check out some of the stories we have already uploaded to our website, to get an idea of how you can write your story. And ask us any questions you may have if you want any help! Good luck!

An open ear at the railway station

An open ear at the railway station

At the heart of community life. With an ever present calling. To be close to the people and to be open to the needs of the time is the common thread running through the history of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy of St Vincent de Paul in Untermarchtal. For...

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I Know – Diaries of a Vincentian

I Know – Diaries of a Vincentian

It was freezing. I had just stepped out from the warm embrace of my hotel and needed a moment to adjust to the cold now filling my lungs. It was a wonderful day. Blue skies and winter sun. A thin layer of ice paved the road, some spots of frozen old snow here and...

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Sharing the Word and a Meal – Diaries of a Vincentian

Sharing the Word and a Meal – Diaries of a Vincentian

Like almost any other Friday for the last six years, Ramona arrived drunk, hugging and kissing her friends, her breath smelling like cheap rum and drugs. There’s always a volunteer waiting for her at the playground in the St Peter Apostle parish school, to listen...

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In plain sight. Yet invisible – Diaries of a Vincentian

In plain sight. Yet invisible – Diaries of a Vincentian

On a Saturday night, London’s streets are transformed into a stage with a spotlight being turned on the everyday actors of little tragedies, big comedies, promising romances. Scenes can be fleeting, almost unnoticeable; or they play out on centre stage – the main act...

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Home – Diaries of a Vincentian

Home – Diaries of a Vincentian

What had seemed a reasonable choice of clothing just a few hours ago had quickly turned into regret as I squeezed myself through a tiny hole in a wire fence – trying not to shred my long, wavy summer skirt on the surrounding, serrated edges; or cutting my skin for...

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The FHA volunteer ambassadors come together for the first time

The FHA volunteer ambassadors come together for the first time

The FHA volunteer ambassadors gathered for the first time in July in Paris. They came together for three days of training near the places where St Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac lived and worked. The ambassadors are now back in their countries, ready to spread...

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The Vincentian Spirit of Medellín

The Vincentian Spirit of Medellín

‘Go to the poor,’ he said. St Vincent didn’t wait for the poor to come knocking. He was proactive in his charity. Sometimes people don’t want to ask for help. Sometimes people can’t ask for help, even though they need it. But St Vincent circumvented that, saying you...

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Service at the heart of Vincentian charity

Service at the heart of Vincentian charity

Service is at the heart of Vincentian charity. People giving up their time to help our poorest brothers and sisters has carried the spirit of St Vincent across the world over the past 400 years. The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia is one of the largest...

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Five Top Tips on Writing a Case Story

Here are five tips on how to be that voice and engage your reader in your writing:

The Scene
You need to be engaging, and that means taking your reader to where you are. You need to set the scene:

  • what can you see?
  • what are the sounds
  • what are the smells?
Details Matter
Small details are what captures the reader’s imagination. Don’t just summarise – drop in some small details to engage your reader.
For example,

  • what is someone wearing?
  • what is the weather like?
  • what day is it?
The Personal Picture

If you are writing about a person, it is best to get direct quotations from them. Write down what they actually say, and write how they actually say it. Obtain some information about their life – where have they come from, what are their likes/dislikes, what are their aspirations? This will connect the reader to the individual.

The Big Picture

Connect the personal stories you tell with the big picture.
For example,

  • How widespread is homelessness in the area you write about?
  • How many people does the project you write about help each day?

This means the reader can understand the scale of the issues you describe.

Photographs

A picture can tell a thousand words! Good quality photographs are really important to complement any story you write. Try and use a camera but a smartphone is also OK! When taking the photo, are people are looking at the camera? Make sure to take lots of photographs so you can pick from the best, and take them from different angles. And when you send them to us – make sure you select the size over 1mb, otherwise, they will be grainy.

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