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    • State Minister for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, says the Government is committed to improving social protection and care for the most vulnerable in the society.
    • This, he noted, is in keeping with the announcement by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, during her 2014/15 budget presentation, that the National Housing Trust (NHT) will provide $280 million of its surplus each year, to undertake such work.
    • Mr. Fagan informed that the Ministry, through the Board of Supervision and the NHT, will continue to work together to ensure these projects are executed successfully.

    State Minister for Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Colin Fagan, says the Government is committed to improving social protection and care for the most vulnerable in the society.

    Mr. Fagan, who was speaking at the Board of Supervision’s graduation exercise at the Alhambra Inn in St. Andrew on Wednesday (November 19), said a number of projects have been identified across the island to upgrade infirmaries, and provide indigent housing and shelter for street people.

    This, he noted, is in keeping with the announcement by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, during her 2014/15 budget presentation, that the National Housing Trust (NHT) will provide $280 million of its surplus each year, to undertake such work.

    “This is critical and is a key deliverable in the delivery of social protection to our people,” Mr. Fagan said.

    He informed that infirmaries requiring urgent assistance have been identified in St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Portland, St. James and Clarendon, while more shelters will be provided for the homeless in Clarendon, Kingston and St. Andrew, Westmoreland, Hanover, St. Ann and Manchester.

    Mr. Fagan informed that the Ministry, through the Board of Supervision and the NHT, will continue to work together to ensure these projects are executed successfully.

    A total of 16 Poor Relief Officers and Matrons of infirmaries across the island were formally presented with their professional certificates in Poor Relief Administration at the graduation ceremony.

    They had successfully completed a six- month course in collaboration with Active Ageing at the University of the West Indies, Mona in July 2013.

    The course covered a number of areas including: psychology; accounting for social services; organization and administration of social services; nursing administration; and social work.

    Meanwhile, with just over 1,000 people recorded as residents of the streets, with the majority being in the Corporate Area, Mr. Fagan charged the graduates to “help to transform the way our society sees and treats its vulnerable citizens.”

    He said the duty of care is not exclusively that of the Government but the entire society. “I call again for a national recognition of the crisis that homelessness presents, and that we begin to examine how we, at a personal level, can begin to create positive changes in our communities,” he urged.

    “We cannot complete the task of serving people and building communities if we fail to tackle this multi-faceted problem,” he added.

    Meanwhile, Matron of the Trelawny Infirmary and top graduate, Avie-Ann Laing, said the course equipped participants with knowledge of the various laws and policies that govern their practice.

    “It also gives us a greater sense of the responsibility we have to assist the poor, the oppressed and the vulnerable in society,” she said. Ms. Laing charged her colleagues to make a positive impact within the poor relief system.

    “Continue to make improvements in the lives of our clients and to break the cycle of poverty in Jamaica as we are so guided by the mission of the Board of Supervision,” she said.

    The Board of Supervision is a statutory body established under the Poor Relief Act to supervise and monitor the delivery of the poor relief services performed by the parish councils and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC).

    The formal training programme is in accordance with section 19 (2) of the Act, which stipulates that: ‘No person shall be appointed to be an Inspector of Poor or a Master or Matron of the Infirmaries unless that person has passed such examination as may be required by the Board of Supervision, and the requirements of the Board of Supervision as to such examination shall be published from time to time in the Gazette.”