The Ministry of Labour and Social Security launched its Programme of Advancement Through Health & Education (PATH) Community Engagement Series (CES) in Montego Bay, St. James, on Wednesday (June 22).
Scores of persons turned out for the event, held at the St. John’s Methodist Church in Montego Bay, where they were sensitised about the various social security programmes offered by the Ministry and how they can benefit.
The CES is designed to improve access to the network of social services provided by the Ministry to the nation’s poor and vulnerable.
The Ministry said it intends to take CES to 239 marginalised rural communities across the island over six months and will also use the initiative to garner valuable information that can be used to refine its service offerings, while deepening linkages with its clientele, resulting in more sustainable empowerment at the community level.
Speaking at the launch, Chief Technical Director with responsibility for Social Security, Audrey Deer-Williams, said that the community engagement sessions are aimed at increasing applications to PATH and other social assistance programmes.
“We want to ensure that every family and individual that needs access to a social assistance programme knows how to apply and what documents are required,” she said.
She reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to contributing to national development through the provision of efficient and effective labour and social security services to the population’s most vulnerable.
“PATH is 20 years old. It is our objective to continue the task of increasing educational attainment and improving the health outcomes of the poor by breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. This means that we want to ensure that every generation has a better standard of living than the previous one,” Mrs. Deer-Williams added.
Latara Coy of Pitfour, who participated in the day’s activities, told JIS News that the event was beneficial and provided pertinent information.
“Now I just have to go into [the office] with some documents [to receive assistance]… . So I really appreciate it,” she said.
Sixty-year-old Sharon Campbell of Rose Heights said she had fallen on hard times since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and is in need of some help.
“I heard the commercial [about the event] so I decided to come to find out how best this could benefit me… as I didn’t know about the different programmes at the Ministry,” she shared.
Since its launch in 2002, PATH has become Jamaica’s flagship social assistance programme, currently providing cash grants to approximately 350,000 beneficiaries.