Minister Phipps at the town hall meeting
Minister Phipps at the town hall meeting

Government to offer social assistance in communities across St. Kitts

From SKNIS

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Ministry of Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services is poised to expand its presence in districts across St. Kitts as a number of social assistance programmes are decentralized from the capital city.

“Instead of the traditional system where you have to journey to Basseterre just to collect a voucher for groceries or medical support, we are bringing the services … to you,” Minister of State the Honourable Wendy Phipps said Tuesday during a town hall meeting in Sandy Point.

The minister has responsibility for the three previously mentioned departments and said that effective social work cannot be done by people who just sit behind a desk. As such, social assistance, community-based and child probation officers will be deployed at community centres in Old Road, St. Pauls, Tabernacle, Cayon, East Basseterre and McKnight, where they can interface more frequently with residents.

This is the first phase of the initiative that will be rolled out to all community centres in St. Kitts. The initial centres were chosen based on their central locations within the respective zones used by the ministry. The officers will work the standard public office hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during weekdays when the new system is implemented in a few weeks.

“The only issue that has prevented us from moving in already is the telecoms infrastructure because we have to put the lines in, including the internet, so that we can communicate with essential services and the head office,” Phipps stated. “There should be greater outreach between the churches, the schools, and the community centre, and by extension it also means that some of the requests that some of you have been coming to me for [such as] continuing education and skill development within the community centre will now be possible.”

Community residents have requested training in a number of areas such as floral arrangement, basic electrical and cake decoration. “This is one way for us to get that type of training to [the people] and better utilize the centres so they do not stay there and become white elephants,” she said. “They are meant to serve the community, so we are bringing the services where people are.”