The Hon. Eric Evelyn, minister of community development on Nevis
The Hon. Eric Evelyn, minister of community development on Nevis

Nevis’s Evelyn marks World Social Work Day

From the NIA

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – The following is an address by the Hon. Eric Evelyn, minister of community development in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA), in observance of World Social Work Day March 20.

Fellow citizens and residents,

I greet you on the occasion of World Social Work Day that is being celebrated on Tuesday, March 20.

This is the key day in the year that social workers worldwide stand together to celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action, celebrate the achievements of the profession and take the theme message into their communities, workplaces and to their governments to raise awareness of the social work contributions and need for further action.

The official 2018 World Social Work Day theme is “Promoting Community and Environmental Sustainability.” This is the second and final year of this theme of the Global Agenda for Social Work and Social Development.

However, in considering our own local realities, the Nevis Social Services Department has decided to focus on the sub-theme “Promoting Social Work – another noble profession.” The need to champion the profession and attract workers is a growing and urgent need here in Nevis.

There are many pressing issues surrounding social work that can and should be highlighted on a day like this. Among these are oppression and social justice and the need to celebrate and protect human diversity.

Child welfare and child justice is a major component of social work. Our children are entitled to the same rights and services as their adult caretakers, hence, the need to promote an intensified child protection system to safe-guard one of our most precious human resource – our children.

Poverty will always be high on the social work agenda. It can wreak havoc on the less fortunate, who in their daily lives are faced with difficulties pertaining to food, health and housing security.

The creation of programmes and services to combat hardships and effective channelling of government resources to our poorest and most vulnerable families in a manner that promotes empowerment and dignity is crucial.

Social problems seem to be perpetually on the rise around the world, and our beautiful, small island federation is no exception. We are blessed in St. Kitts and Nevis to live in a relatively stable economy. However, for some unstable living conditions, unemployment, under-employment and family instability can cause insecurity and a sense of powerlessness to make appreciable changes in their lives. They turn to unacceptable and more harmful measures to cope with their unstable living – drugs, gangs, domestic violence, [and] crime, to name a few. It is partly the role of social workers to provide professional help to combat these negative coping strategies that can lead to the down-spiral of our people and communities.

Social workers have a fundamental role in the work force if we are to achieve sustainable development goals. None of the previously mentioned issues can be effectively addressed without an adequately trained and sustained social workforce. It is with this knowledge, therefore, that we seek to highlight the contributions of our past and present social work staff who have worked tirelessly to advance the well-being of our people, and begin a campaign to raise awareness of the social work profession to our students, young adults and older individuals who may be considering one of the work areas of social work needed in our country.

Building an adequately trained staff resource, achieving a better balance in the gender of our workers, making the profession attractive to our young [people] on the verge of entering the world of work is our chosen issue of focus for World Social Work Day 2018.

I would particularly like to pay homage to the trailblazers of social work here on Nevis. I speak of Helen Bradley, one of our earliest social workers. I also speak of Jean Harris, who introduced to our Nevis Social Work operation one of the most needed and outstanding programmes, our Seniors Outreach Programme, where field workers are deployed throughout the island daily to interact with the elderly who have served our communities.

This programme started in 2003 in the parish of St. James with two workers and has grown to an island-wide outreach, spanning all five parishes, with 18 field workers now deployed from the Department of Social Services Seniors Division.

I also speak of former directors of Social Services, Orlando Sargeant, Hensley Daniel and Cheryl Bartlette-Fields, who all made a sterling contribution to the development of the Social Services Department and to the overall development of social work on the island. 

I want at this time to briefly highlight some of the major accomplishments of the Social Services Department:

  • The department has fulfilled its role in the first five-year activities of the implementation of the St.
    Kitts/Nevis National Social Protection Strategy. The 2012 SKN Social Protection Strategy is intended to set the framework for sustainable and comprehensive social protection for all citizens against risks, shocks and vulnerabilities leading to chronic deprivation.
  • [More than] 3,000 households registered through our recently established Household Registry Unit.
  • A long-running single parent support group managed through the Social Services Family Services Division
  • Our Child Protection and Child Justice Unit is advancing to include effective collaborations with our main stakeholders.
  • The department’s Yes To Success Programme promotes proper assessments, diversion, community service, counselling and life skills to at-risk youth, coupled with job internships and job placement, and has been recognized by the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) [for] making a valuable difference in the lives of young men who might otherwise have fallen deeper into crime and delinquency
  • Annual Life Skills Training Programmes for Teen Mothers, supported and sanctioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
  • We boast of one of the most excellent social safety nets for our Nevisian senior citizens
  • Pilot and upscale of the RISE (Restore, Inspire, Secure and Empower) Programme, which is transforming social assistance from a mere monetary hand-out to a holistic programme

I would like to commend the current director, Sandra Maynard, and her staff for the excellent work that has been done the past few years.

Let me take this opportunity to wish the entire staff at the Social Services Department a happy World Social Work Day.

Thank you and may God bless us all.