International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Vegetarian Society of Ulster

from EVU News Issues 3+4, 1995

We are a small group of volunteer workers. The Society was formed in 1932 but N.Ireland seems to be a difficult place to recruit members. We work very hard all year and through the years. I personally have been with the Society for about 16 years as Secretary and outreach worker. We have some old time members and some new. We display posters that we can give talks, demos, debates to all groups and especially to Schools. We have a fair number through the year, but our transport facilities are not the best. We are especially trying to break down gently the barriers which seem to be in Schools in inviting us. The children would like us but heads etc., question our material or ignore our regular letter contacts. We try to follow up with personal visits. We feel this is a very important area, which I and others intend to follow.

We try to have a little street stall out as often as possible for the public, to let them know about us, but it is slow demanding work but necessary.

We helped local Animal Rights Group with their stall and outreach.

We just had a joint evening of video and vegan food for World Vegan Day Nov. 1st. Although numbers were small it was worth the offer and hire of cost of room etc., We would like to hold public meetings at least once a month but room costs are high. We would like an information center but renting costs are enormous. It is one of our major goals and to try and recruit more members to help both physically and financially. We find (though 50 members) the work falls on the few.

We had national veg week with an information table at local Co-op Mall and it went well raising a little funds and talking to people. We feel this is very important but it is difficult to get permission to do this. We had 3 collection days but only a few turned up but worth the effort for help with petty cash funds etc., but definitely hard work compared to other charities.

We have applied from time to time for help from trust and grants but without success. I think we are the least supported charity in N.Ireland, yet we have the practical answers to world's problems.

I also try with many churches and religious institutions both by letter and follow up, but the response is not too good but worth the effort. The communication has to go into the brain and they have to consciously think about the factors some time in their earthly journey.

We meet once a month as a commitee though a lot of the small number are involved in many other things and it is difficult for me to get full commitment.

I would like to do a Christmas without cruelty project, meals etc., but it means trying to get a kitchen/hall centrally or good surburbs to attract shoppers. No success yet and no success in previous years, but I will keep trying.

Lots of other ideas coming forward, but we are active and pioneering and will continue.

Many of us would like to go to conferences etc., but unfortunately we cannot afford it.

We would like to hear of similar groups, who are struggling like us and any ideas they could pass on to us. For instance is Lottery money or other money available or are they suffering from general apathy to our cause as we are. Any help or information would be appreciated.

Yours sincerely

Secretary and Outreach
Mrs. Beth Gourley
Vegetarian Society of Ulster
66 Ravenhill Gardens, Belfast BT6 8GQ, Northern Ireland