With the social assessment of several West Kingston communities now complete, the Government is currently analysing the findings to determine the priorities in order to further assist the residents.
The assessment, which became necessary following the operation by the security forces in the area in late May, was conducted by approximately 100 social workers from the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Four communities were affected – Tivoli Gardens, Denham Town, Fletchers Land and Hannah Town.
The house-to-house assessment was aimed at determining the level of dislocation to families and to gather information that will assist the Government in providing appropriate support to the residents.
Social Workers from the Social Development Commission and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security about to embark on their social assessment in West Kingston, in June.
Originally slated to last three days, the time was extended to accommodate a comprehensive evaluation by the social workers, which involved determining the extent of individual damage to persons’ homes and personal property.
Public Assistance Parish Manager for Kingston and St. Andrew in the Labour and Social Security Ministry, Lorna Higgins, told JIS News in a recent interview, that the assessment took approximately three weeks to be completed, as social workers ensured that every household was visited.
“They visited each family. They went into the houses and they received the complaints, they recorded them and they did the damage assessment, looking at whatever damage and identified the needs,” she informed.
Mrs. Higgins noted that some of the major priorities identified at the time were the need for food, a means of livelihood and of grave importance, counselling.
The Parish Manager explained that the forms used to collect information were sorted through and “we identified the persons who (we thought) needed counselling and those persons were immediately referred to the Jamaica Red Cross which has a psycho-social unit, and they went in and held counselling sessions with the families.”
Director of Emergency Services at the Jamaica Red Cross, Marcia Alexandra told JIS News that a psycho-social support team of 11 volunteers with the organisation, conducted group counselling with persons in some of the affected areas, adding that food was distributed to the residents as well.
She noted that the team, which had special interventions for children and adults that catered to approximately 70 persons in sections of Tivoli Gardens and another 50 in parts of Hannah Town, were well received.
The Ministry of Education also played a key role in providing counselling for students affected by the security operations in West Kingston.
Director of Communications in the Ministry of Education, Colin Blair, informed that the Ministry had conducted counselling sessions with students and parents who had been traumatised by the events.
“We had counselling sessions with teachers, we have had sessions with students and in fact, we continue to have sessions with students and those affected by the violence,” he informed.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Higgins, who told JIS News that she also visited sections of West Kingston, shares that she was touched by how receptive the residents were to the social workers.
“When you see the persons, you realise that they are just normal, nice people, like all Jamaicans, with the same needs, the same issues and one of the things that really touched me, is how receptive they were…they were quite co-operative,” she says.
She noted that even though the assessment is complete, the process continued “and I’m sure in the near future, there will be more tangible support, because there has been tangible gifts like counselling, the food packages that were given, but more will be coming, not as a hand out, but to empower our citizens.”
A preliminary report on the exercise was submitted to Prime Minister the Hon. Bruce Golding at the end of the first week of the assessment, and at the end of the process, a comprehensive report was submitted, she added.
There are some persons who were not at home during the time of the assessment. These persons are being asked to make a report to the office of the Public Assistance Parish Manager for Kingston and St. Andrew at 72 Harbour Street. Following this report, an investigation will be carried out.
The assessment was a joint effort of the Ministries of Labour and Social Security and Youth, Sports and Culture.