Kendal All-Age Forum Helps Parents Cope with Economic Crisis


Manchester’s Kendal All-Age School’s Guidance and Counselling Department recently held a forum at the Kendal Community Centre, as part of its community outreach programme to help parents cope with the current economic crisis.
The Department initiated the forum in light of growing concerns over absenteeism, and the welfare of students attending the school.
Guidance Counsellor, Janet Burke, said that the school body was prompted to intervene, as parents blamed the economic climate for the difficulties in adequately caring for their children.
“We are all experiencing hard times, but the fact that we are experiencing hard times does not take away the fact that we have a responsibility, as parents, teachers and caregivers, in general,” Ms. Burke said.
“Our responsibilities are still there, and we are expected to go through these hard times with our children and do it in such a way that they will not be worse off as a result,” remarked Children’s Officer with the Child Development Agency (CDA), Violet Crew.
Mrs. Crew said that, in spite of the economic hardships, the Child Care and Protection Act of 2004, says that if parents do not meet the needs of their children, it is an offence under the Law that attracts fines and confinement.
“Children have been entrusted in our care and it is our responsibility through good times, in bad times, through recessions, through times of plenty, to do our best for them,” she said.
She said that children depend on parents to provide physical needs, such as food, clothing and shelter, and when they fail to provide them, they are teaching the children to be irresponsible and not provide for family.
“You are sending your child, or children for their needs to be met elsewhere, when you do not provide for them. It is not where you live: Yes, that has some impact on it, but is not the most important factor, it’s what you do with what you have,” she said.
“So we are expecting that you provide for the physical needs and, in this day and age, when we talk about constraints, the recession, this is when parents need to understand what it really means to “turn hand and make fashion,” she observed.
Mrs. Crew challenged parents to start a backyard garden, while retraining their taste buds and finding interesting ways to prepare vegetables for the children.
“Go plant a backyard garden, that is the start, we cannot buy everything. It is not about what the children love, it is about what their bodies need. You are going to have to retrain your taste buds, and it is only a pity it takes a recession for us to get there, because that is where we need to be,” she said.
“You are going to have to find interesting ways of preparing vegetables so that the children will eat it, because they need it. You do not need any big thing to feed your family, start growing something,” she charged.
Career Development Officer with HEART Trust/NTA, Villette Lewinson, told the gathering that they need a skill to survive.
“What HEART Trust is saying is that you can come to us to get training. There is a wide variety of skill areas in which persons can be trained. We have over 100 different skill areas,” she said.
The Jamaica National Small Business Loan also provided information on how persons who wish to start, or expand small businesses can access affordable loans from the institution.

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