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Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson-Miller, has commended the St. James Parish Council’s Poor Relief Department for its innovative structure and its far-reaching efforts in offering care to street people and the less fortunate in Montego Bay.
“I am heartened by the list of volunteers that work in collaboration with the Poor Relief Department. My heartiest commendation goes to the organizations and individuals, who are being honoured today. Your tireless work, your caring, your devotion and your goodwill have made a tremendous impact on the lives of many persons”, Minister Simpson-Miller said. “A humane, caring and compassionate society is judged by how it deals with its elderly, its weak, its vulnerable and its marginalized,” she added.
The Minister was addressing an awards ceremony held recently at the Montego Bay Civic Centre to recognize persons, who have contributed to the care and welfare of street people in the second city. She also handed over a 2001 Toyota Hiace mini bus valued at $1.07 million to the Poor Relief Department for the Street People Programme.
The Local Government Minister noted that the government was seeking to pursue policies that were aimed at reducing the number of persons on the streets.
“The aim of all our economic policies and the main thrust of macroeconomic stability is to ensure that we have the surplus needed to support our social programmes. We don’t see economic growth as an end in itself. We are balancing the budget because we want to balance people’s lives. We believe in creating wealth and in opening up opportunities for entrepreneurship because it is only through wealth creation and dynamic entrepreneurship that our standard of living will be raised,” Minister Simpson-Miller stressed.
She urged caregivers in the programme to ensure that the very best quality of service was rendered to street persons, stressing that, “never you rob our street people of their dignity and respect. Let them know that you value them as human beings”.
“Lending a hand to and caring for our street people is not just a government thing or a big private sector thing or a tourism thing. It is not just those with abundance, who should care for the homeless and downcast . I want to see us reach a place in this society where each and every Jamaican takes it as a personal responsibility to care for our homeless and indigent”, Minister Simpson-Miller told participants in the ceremony.