- 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