The Social Development Commission (SDC) is expressing satisfaction with the public response to its series of Participatory, Accountability and Responsibility (PAR) parish sessions.
According to Executive Director of the SDC, Dr. Dwayne Vernon, the feedback has been positive to date, with citizens voicing approval for the agency’s work and how the various activities have impacted their lives.
“What has come out… is a sort of appreciation, for what the SDC is about and the things that we are doing,” he told JIS News.
“Another thing that we have found to be very instructive and good as well, is that persons have expressed that, just the fact that we are coming to them, baring soul, so to speak, they appreciate that, because it is new ground in how agencies work in this country,” he stated.
Dr. Vernon was speaking to JIS News at the fifth in the series of public fora held on Tuesday, March 12, at the Brown’s Town Anglican Church Hall in St. Ann.
The meetings, which got underway in Clarendon on March 4, are aimed at providing citizens with updates on the work and achievements of the agency, including organisational targets, programmes, expenditure and relevant operational matters.
At the community fora, several state agencies, community leaders, as well as civic groups, provide details on their recent achievements in the parish. Members of the audience were also allowed to ask questions.
Dr. Vernon explained that during the sessions, the SDC’s body of work is presented to the public, “so that persons can have an appreciation for what it is that we do and how it is that they have been involved, and for them to basically comment on it, criticize the work, make recommendations, and for us to explain factors that perhaps, before now, persons did not clearly understand.”
Importantly, as well, he said, “it is for us to have communities understand the SDC, because there are many misconceptions as to what the SDC does, so it’s important for us to have these sessions, and so far, so good.”
Dr. Vernon said the feedback gathered during these sessions, will influence how the SDC goes forward, as well as help in determining what adjustments are needed in the organisation’s operations.
The Brown’s Town session was very interactive, with representatives from almost every agency within the parish participating in the question and answer segment, which followed a presentation by SDC St. Ann Parish Manager, Richardo Aiken.
Also present at the Brown’s Town session were Chairman of the SDC, Paul Burke, and Mayor of St. Ann’s Bay, Councillor Desmond Gilmore.
One meeting will be held in every parish before the end of the month. The plan is to stage these community sessions twice per year.
By Bryan Miller, JIS Reporter