Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell (March 4) urged clients to exercise a greater amount of patience when seeking social assistance. Minister Campbell said in many instances, social workers and their support staff are following the protocols and policies that have been established to ensure that those who are in need of assistance receive the kind of assistance required to address their specific needs. The Social Services Minister commended social workers and support staff for the key roles they play in the delivery of social assistance to those citizens who meet the established requirements. “We are here for you if you need our services, if you need our assistance, but understand that there is a process, that there are procedures to follow,” Minister Campbell said. “Notwithstanding your personal frustrations, try to exercise some patience and definitely respect, for our team members who are attempting to assist you.”
Minister Campbell’s comments came while appearing on the Wake Up Bahamas and The Morning Shows on the ZNS Radio Network. The appearances were among the activities scheduled to commemorate Professional Social Workers Month in The Bahamas. (March is celebrated annually as Professional Social Workers Month locally.) Minister Campbell was accompanied by: Mrs. Andrea Newbold, Chief Welfare Officer, Department of Social Services and Chairperson of the Professional Social Workers Month Committee.Minister Campbell said social workers and their support staff employed by the Department of Social Services are “the greatest,” and work hard to deliver services, programmes and products to clients in a professional, committed and compassionate manner. Social Workers are called upon to carry out a myriad of tasks ranging from assessing clients for school uniform assistance, food assistance, financial assistance — including rental, utilities, burial, bed and appliances assistance — and fire relief.
They also have the responsibility for assessing persons for Med Cards as part of the services provided by Health Social Services, and act as liaisons between the Princess Margaret Hospital and the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and the families of patients receiving care at those facilities to ensure the well being of those patients with social needs. They also work with persons with substance abuse addictions, providing individual and group counseling. Social Workers also liaise with officials at The Bahamas Department of Corrections and the families of inmates who may, for example, have young children with social concerns. They further liaise with the Juvenile and Family Courts, complete assessments on residents of the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys and the Willie Mae Pratt Centre for Girls; help to guide the adoption and foster care process, and serve as liaisons between government and private-owned and operated schools and the community to address any social issues that may arise within the school setting. They are further called upon to manage cases of child abuse be it sexual, physical, emotional and/or educational abuse and neglect, and are mandated to investigate these matters thoroughly, conduct home visits, and follow-up on cases. They work closely with the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Suspected Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) Unit of the Ministry of Health.
They conduct assessments for all government-owned and operated Pre-School Admissions, and work with children who are wards of the state, that is children who live in the state-owned and/or private operated Children’s Homes or those to which the government provides subventions. Social Workers also sit on the country’s Trafficking in Persons Committee, and play a vital role as part of the country’s Response Mechanism to disastrous events – natural and otherwise – and emergencies through its Disaster Management Unit. That is just a sampling of the many tasks they perform.
Minister Campbell said social workers and their support staff usually fulfill their duties in a professional, compassionate manner – even when they may be undergoing personal difficulties in their lives. He used the aftermath of the monster storm Hurricane Dorian as an example. “Hurricane Dorian was just one example of that commitment and dedication because while they themselves would have been affected, they did not sit back and act as victims, but rather they stood up, forgetting their own needs, and ensured — to the best of their ability — that other persons who were in need, were cared for. They were out before, during and in the aftermath of the storm and some of them are still out there manning the one remaining shelter while giving service to those persons who are our regular clients, in addition to those who would have become clients as a result of the wrath of Hurricane Dorian and so I celebrate them year-round,” Minister Campbell added.
Minister Campbell recalled two instances in particular, which he said showed the fortitude, professionalism and compassion of social workers. “In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, a team member in Abaco – Tonelle Cornish – who was pregnant, dug her heels in and refused to leave despite being asked to because she was more concerned about who would take care of the other survivors of the Hurricane. That is the kind of dedication, commitment and compassion she and her team displayed. “Then there was a visit to Grand Bahama to Paula Marshall and her team almost one month ago when there were some concerns about procedures.
And while persons were complaining, the team was on the inside of a building that was completely devoid of furniture (as a result of the extensive damage caused to many of the buildings in Freeport and East Grand Bahama) serving persons. Notwithstanding what is going on in their own personal lives, notwithstanding that they too would have lost homes and possessions, notwithstanding that they had family members who were unaccounted for, they were there giving service. That calls for a special kind of person and so I feel privileged to be a part of this team of special persons,” Minister Campbell added.