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JIS News

LONDON — The Registrar General's Department (RGD) and the National Housing Trust (NHT) completed a seven-city United Kingdom (UK) tour on October 10, looking at ways to improve their service to the Jamaican Diaspora.

The visit was organised by the Jamaican Diaspora UK, as a spin-off community initiative from the UK Diaspora national conference that was held in London in June. The tour started on Wednesday, October 3, with the first appointments and community meeting in Birmingham. Other cities visited were Sheffield, Leeds, Nottingham, Luton, London and Bristol.

Chief Executive Officer for the RGD, Mrs. Deirdre English-Gosse, told JIS News that based on their meetings and ‘one-on-one’ appointments with members of the Diaspora, there was a clear need to improve how the agency communicated with the Diaspora.

She also said that the agency would be investigating the possibility of engaging an officer in the UK to handle RGD related matters.

"The response (to our visit) was very good and one of the things we will be investigating is the possibility of engaging someone here to handle RGD business.  We have not finalised it, but we are certainly looking at the possibility,” Mrs. English-Gosse said.

She noted that the visit allowed the RGD to look at  the processes  being used by  the Registrars in  these UK cities  and how  some of the methods can be used in Jamaica to improve processing times, the quality of service  and the agency’s earnings.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of the NHT, Mrs. Cecile Watson, said the main focus for the NHT was exploratory, to understand the nature of the request coming from the Diaspora.

"This is about a drive to get (Diaspora) contributors to the Trust, but we have to give value to the contributors, so it’s about designing value added offers for this community to launch a specific product tailored to their needs and within the parameters allowed by the NHT Act,” she said.

Mrs. Watson pointed out that the NHT had started a specific Diaspora initiative to focus on how the Diaspora could contribute to, and benefit from the NHT.

The Trust  is  also looking at  those members of the Diaspora who have no need for a NHT benefit but  are likely to contribute to assist with national development or who want  to assist to allow  a relative to acquire an NHT housing solution.

In addition to hosting the ‘one-on-one’ appointments and making presentations at seven community meetings, both the RGD and NHT teams met with agencies that offer similar services in the cities and boroughs where they visited.

Mrs. Watson said the meetings with the UK housing associations were most helpful, and that the NHT will look at the extent to which the UK models can be applied in Jamaica.