Depaul helps people who are homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged.

About us

The Depaul Group began in 1989 in response to the growing number of homeless people on the streets of London. 

The initial idea emerged from The Passage Day Centre in Victoria, a project of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul.  Sister Barbara Smith MBE, who was then Director of The Passage, and her management team and trustees brought their proposal to Cardinal Basil Hume who agreed to be Patron of the new charity Depaul Trust and support its inception.  The founder members were the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, the Society of St Vincent de Paul, and The Passage Day Centre – all of which have their roots in the life and work of Saint Vincent de Paul (1581-1660). 


Sister Sarah King-Turner was appointed as the first Director and built the infrastructure in London as well as leading on its first project developments.  In those early years in London Depaul was proud to have the unstinting support of Diana, Princess of Wales who visited Depaul projects regularly, making time to sit and talk to residents in our hostels for single homeless young people aged 16-25.  In 1992 Mark McGreevy took over as Director, and he inspired and led the national and international expansion of the Depaul Group over the next few years, for which he was awarded an OBE in January 2015.

Depaul quickly grew into a national charity in the UK and, in 2002, began expanding internationally, starting in Ireland.  Two years later, Depaul International, then known as The Depaul Foundation, was formed to be parent organisation to the burgeoning global group – with the aim of tackling homelessness at a worldwide level.  Depaul Slovensko, in Slovakia, was registered in 2006, Depaul Ukraine (initially known as Depaul Kharkiv), was set up the following year, and Depaul USA in 2008. Depaul France was established in 2013 and the most recent addition is Depaul Croatia in 2018.  Depaul's services across the world now support homeless and vulnerable people of all ages.

Depaul International, and each member of the Depaul Group, owes its inspiration and its values to Vincent de Paul, a major social reformer in 17th Century France.   Vincent de Paul reached out to the poor and the disenfranchised, valuing each and every person.  He attracted a large group of supporters and volunteers, whom he inspired with his love for the poor, building bridges between rich people and those living in poverty.

Vincent de Paul devoted his life to helping the poor, sick and needy and was canonised in 1737. He is often referred to as “the Saint of Charity”.  Vincentian Values are key to the foundation and work of the Depaul Group and all its national charities.  These values include a commitment to help the poorest of the poor – and to place actions ahead of words.

Institute of Global Homelessness

Find out more about research on global homelessness

Anja Bohnsack on the LSBU course

July 14th, 2020

What is your current role?

I have just started as the Director of Operations at Depaul International after working as Programmes Manager for several years. The LHF LSBU course was actually instrumental in this move as it helped me to develop new skills and a more precise knowledge base across key areas such as accounting, governance and change management. I realised that I had picked up a lot of things during my career, but it was helpful to understand the theory and consider the evidence behind it so I could become more effective in my work.


Why did you apply to the LSBU course?  What attracted you to it as opposed to the many other courses available?

My main goal was career development. I wanted to further develop the skills I needed to move into leadership; and I wanted to do this within the homelessness sector. This course is unique in that it is detailed yet concise and whilst its focus is on developing leaders in the homelessness sector, learning from each module can be transferred to other organisations and sectors – ensuring that what has been learned can be applied in other contexts.


Which bits of the course were particularly useful?

All were helpful in their own right. Over the years, you learn a lot of things simply by doing them; however, other things need to be taught. I have always found it beneficial to have a robust theoretical framework to fall back on, and this course has helped me to get one across a diverse set of subject areas.


How has it changed the way you now practice?  What lessons have you been able to apply in your work and organisation?

I am now far more reflective in my approach, thinking more about what I do and how it affects me and others. I am also more confident in making my opinions heard – especially as I have the theory and evidence to back it up. Whilst we haven’t implemented any specific initiatives as a result of this course (yet), I would say that it has added to the learning of DPI overall. This course wasn’t just a learning experience for myself; but also for the rest of the team as I would discuss what I had learned at length, whenever I had the chance.


Who do you think would particularly benefit from the course?

I think the course is particularly useful for people in middle management who want to progress into senior management. Many of us started our careers on the front line, got a lot of experience and worked our way up. But to make the move into senior management you often need a qualification and evidence of a specific skill set to help open doors. This course allows you to demonstrate that you have the level of skills you need to be successful in senior management. That said, even people in senior management would benefit: we all have gaps in our knowledge and practice. We need to be aware of what we don’t know.


Anything else about the course?

One of the key points for me was that NGOs and local authorities were represented on the course. This allowed us to build relationships, joint understanding and an appreciation of the different approaches as well as environments we work in – vital points when wanting to work together to end homelessness.

For more information about the LHF funded LSBU course go to

    Thank you message from Mark McGreevy OBE

    Depaul Group CEO Mark McGreevy OBE thanks staff, volunteers and supporters in all seven subsidiaries working for homeless people during COVID-19 and takes a moment to remember the values that inspire our work all over the world.

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    DPI Patron’s Message of Thanks

    May 27th, 2020

    Her Grace, The Duchess of Norfolk DL, Patron of Depaul International, has issued a message of thanks to all staff and volunteers during the Covid-19 crisis.

    The Duchess of Norfolk opening the new wing of Depaul Slovakia’s Nightshelter in Bratislava

    The Duchess of Norfolk said: “I am writing this message to each and every one of you to send you my heartfelt gratitude and admiration for your outstanding work in these extraordinary and precarious times.

    I know how hard and potentially dangerous your work is and that each day you are risking your lives in your dedication and tireless efforts to help the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

    I send my love, thoughts and prayers to you all. As Patron, I am so proud and humbled to be associated with the exceptional work of Depaul International, and the St Vincentian family, and never more so than now. May God bless and protect you all.

    Georgina Norfolk Xxx ”




      The associations together call for groups such as the homeless, migrants, whether housed or not, and other groups who have to survive in precarious conditions to be priority groups for screening at Covid-19, given their high vulnerability. These men and women run a real risk of being contaminated by the virus and their precarious living environment is an aggravating risk factor. The lack of attention for this specific population can only aggravate the epidemiological situation. Urgent and priority measures must be taken to screen and support these populations, and stem the spread of the virus:


      1   Protection of the homeless public

      In order to ensure the protection of the homeless and vulnerable public in general, it is crucial:

      ●      To promote access to safe accommodation (respecting the standing standards of hygiene) that allows for the isolation of vulnerable groups, to control the potential transmission of the disease (impossible today in congregate shelter);

      ●      To guarantee primary needs are met, including access to food and hygiene;

      ●      To provide the necessary risk reduction equipment (masks, gowns, etc.) for both vulnerable people and the staff assisting them

      ●      To provide access to counselling and support in view of the closure of services and reception centres;

      ●      To protect homeless people from punitive measures by the police in the face of the lack of safe alternatives to public space.


      2.  Proactive and systematic screening policy

      For an obvious public health reason, it is urgent:

      ●      To provide Covid-19 testing in homeless and migrant shelters and create separate spaces for those who are ill  to control the spread of the virus;

      ●      To test caregivers working with these vulnerable groups on a daily basis.


      3.  Keeping people in housing

      Faced with the economic impact of the crisis, it is necessary:

      ●      To maintain housing for vulnerable people;

      ●      To put in place structural solutions for access to housing, which has become, more than ever, a public health imperative.


      Sign here:

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      Global Statement Of Solidarity And Action To #ProtectTheUnhoused From COVID-19
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      A Message from Mark McGreevy OBE

      March 24th, 2020

      I am sure that many of you will agree that there is nothing more important than family. For me this includes my own, and our Depaul family along with the people who we serve. Over the last 30 years, I have taken much pride in seeing how the Depaul Group has grown and evolved, from its roots in a single project in London to now working in seven countries, supporting over 19,500 homeless and marginalised people each year.

      The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, and it is highly likely that it may go on for some time to come. Over the last few weeks, I have been touched to hear the many examples of how our Vincentian Values are being put into practice, most importantly by our frontline staff who strive to keep our vital accommodation and supportive services open, to help the most vulnerable in our society, whilst prioritising their safety and wellbeing.

      Vincent de Paul himself lived in a time of many plagues and pandemics. His focus was always on ensuring the health of his colleagues whilst focussing on the needs of the “poorest of the poor”. 400 years later, we find ourselves in the same position, and I am sure he would be proud of our efforts.

      I also wanted to let you know that within the Depaul Group we are working tirelessly to help with our global mission to end homelessness and change the lives of those affected by it. The Institute of Global Homelessness is collating and promoting best practice in different countries across the world and sharing it with practitioners in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

      The Famvin Homeless Alliance (which represents Vincentian homeless initiatives in over 150 countries) is encouraging local faith communities to fund the preservation of tenancies, and the provision of food and aid to those exposed to infection and at risk in locations such as slums and favelas.

      The spread of this virus is reminding us again just how interconnected the human family really is. We are unique in that the Depaul family is similarly connected in order to respond to need at a local and global level.

      However, our homelessness projects and services face unprecedented challenges, as our costs increase and uncertainty around our income grows. It has never been more crucial that we stand united to help those less fortunate than ourselves and who are at most risk from the Coronavirus.  At this difficult time, we do need all the support possible to continue to keep them open. That is why it is vital that we continue to appeal for donations, and share news about the work that we are doing with you, our wonderful loyal supporters.

      If at this challenging time you can support us, please do click on this link: which sets out how you can donate. Due to a current work from home policy in place at our central office,  I kindly ask that if you can donate to please do so by BACS or via our website, rather than sending us a cheque, where possible. To obtain our bank details to enable you to send a BACS payment please contact

      On behalf of everyone at Depaul may I wish you the very best to you and your family in the coming weeks and thank you for your continued support.

      With every best wish,
      Mark McGreevy
      Depaul Group CEO

        DPI trustee appointed by UK government

        Depaul International trustee Dame Louise Casey has been appointed by the Prime Minister to lead a review into rough sleeping.

        "Homelessness, and within that rough sleeping, is something that causes misery, so I hope that I will be able to help the government and the country expedite action on this issue.", Dame Louise told media after her appointment. Dame Louise has worked previously for the UK government as Homelessness Czar, when she led a successful strategy to reduce the number of people sleeping rough on the streets.

        Depaul International CEO Ian Brady said: “It is excellent news that the Prime Minister has chosen Depaul International Trustee Dame Louise Casey to lead a review into rough sleeping. Dame Louise has worked for decades in this field and is one of the country’s most eminent experts on homelessness.”

        Depaul UK CEO Mike Thiedke said: “Depaul and Dame Louise share the commitment and passion to end rough sleeping in this country. Clearly, there is much to be done but I know that not only is she a leading expert on homelessness, she also values action over words. Appointing Dame Louise to lead this review is a big step in the right direction.”

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        Make Us Count - We Support UN Campaign

        January 28th, 2020

        2020 is a crucial year to make homeless people count. In February, for the first time in decades, the UN will release a report on homelessness written by the Secretary General.

        We are supporting a Campaign, Make Us Count, led by the UN NGO Working Group to End Homlessness. It asks the UN to commit in its report to define and measure global homelessness.

        These are the foundations of a global strategy to end homelessness – an opportunity we must seize. Currently, there is no strategy at all. Every other major social issue is tackled globally to some degree. Not homelessness. In fact, countries don’t even agree on a definition. And there is no global measurement either. At the UN right now, homeless people aren’t just ignored – they aren’t even numbers.

        You might think, so what? But this matters. Put bluntly, it is preventing us from ending homelessness. How can you solve a problem if you don’t know its size? Any credible strategy must have good data and information. This means we can design programmes that respond to need systematically. We can identify gaps and help those people too. We can hold governments to account and keep track of progress. Measurement is key.

        But how can you measure a problem if you don’t agree on what the problem is? That’s why we need a definition. When countries agree broadly on what ‘homelessness’ means, then we can begin to measure it.

        The UN has the power to both agree a definition of homelessness and to measure it too. The UN claims to measure global poverty – but how can you measure poverty if you don’t measure its most visible manifestation, homelessness?

        So the NGO Working Group to End Homelessness, aided by our partner think tank the Institute of Global Homelessness, has devised the campaign “Make Us Count”. It takes the voices and expertise of homeless people themselves to those grand chambers at the UN. And its open letter, signed by leading homelessness charities and experts tells the UN that, yes, definition plus measurement is the start of a global strategy. A strategy the UN must lead. The Campaign includes panel events and an exhibition over the February meetings in New York.

        Visit for more information.

          Over £11,500 Raised by Winter Appeal

          Depaul supporters gave generously to our Winter Appeal again this year, which raised £11,750. The money will be used to fund Depaul's work with homeless people around the world.

          Our Winter Appeal runs every year telling the story of a Depaul client. This year was Misha, who fled fighting in his hometown in east Ukraine.

          As ever, we are grateful to all Depaul supporters who contributed to our Appeal.

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          30 Years of Depaul

          December 11th, 2019

          Depaul, part of the global family of religious congregations and lay organisations working in the tradition of St Vincent de Paul (1580-1660), is marking its 30th anniversary of starting its mission to end homelessness in the UK and across the world.

          Since 1989, Depaul has grown from a single housing project in North London to an international group of charities covering seven countries, and working at the United Nations to promote the cause of street homelessness as an issue governments need to address urgently.  

          Depaul was born out of the Passage Day Centre in Victoria, London. It started as a Vincentian partnership between the Daughters of Charity, the Society of St Vincent de Paul and the Passage Day Centre itself, as a response to the growing number of young people on the streets of London in the late 1980s.

          Mark McGreevy OBE, Depaul Group Chief Executive, said: “I used to walk around the streets surrounding Westminster Cathedral during this period, and you witnessed a rising tide of homelessness across London.

          “In particular young people were arriving in increasing numbers, normally runaways from all over the UK. They were hoping for a different life but for many they could not find work or accommodation. The safety net didn’t exist and as a result they ended up on the street.”

          Cardinal Basil Hume, who saw many young people sleeping rough outside his Cathedral in Westminster, was a driving force in establishing the charity, and became its first Patron. His office secured the ongoing support of Diana, Princess of Wales who was closely involved in promoting the fledgling charity and often visited young people in Depaul’s projects.

          As its name suggests, Depaul is a charity that has been guided by the example of St. Vincent de Paul and his values since its very inception.

          Mr McGreevy said: “Depaul still takes its inspiration from our historical founder. If you drill down into our values and mission they all relate to direct statements made by Vincent de Paul himself. You can trace [them] back into his letters, into his writing, into his speeches. Phrases such as ‘action rather than words’, ‘work with the poorest of the poor,’ ‘inventive unto infinity’ continue to inform our work.”

          Depaul International serves 20,000 homeless people each year across seven countries. Depaul also partners with DePaul University to run the Institute of Global Homelessness, in Chicago.


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