The Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development will make its products and services available online in order to meet clients’ needs in a more efficient and effective manner throughout The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, made the announcement during a recent four-day Official Visit to Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay. Minister Campbell said the measure is part of the Government’s plan to ensure greater access for clients, particularly those citizens who reside in the archipelago’s more remote areas, in a more timely, efficient and effective manner.
The move is also a part of the Ministry’s willingness to shorten the distance between New Providence and the remainder of the Islands, while enhancing timelines in the decision-making process. Minister Campbell said having the services online should help shorten as uplinks in New Providence, who make the final call on decisions, will be able to track the application process through the various stages and work through any delays. Minister Campbell told residents attending the first of two Town Hall Meetings that were scheduled for Acklins and Crooked Island, that computer labs will also be established in Urban Renewal Centres on-island “to ensure that the good work our staff at the Urban Renewal Centre is augmented by a computer lab that will facilitate our children and senior, more experienced persons in the shortest possible amount of time”. There is the connectivity between establishing the computer labs and access to the products and services offered.
“The reason I want the computer labs to come on stream in the shortest possible amount of time is because all of the services I just mentioned are going to go online, just like the passport renewal went online; it is our prayer that in short order all of the services will be offered online.” Minister Campbell also took the opportunity to apprise residents of the myriad of temporary assistance offered by the Ministry through the Department of Social Services, and of the programmes and services offered through the Department of Rehabilitative Welfare Services, The Department of Gender and Family Affairs and the Urban Renewal Commission. These include assistance with loss or damage caused by fire and flood, assistance with the purchase of appliances such as fridges, stoves and beds (within reason), medical assistance, burial assistance, rental assistance, food assistance, school uniform assistance and so forth. Minister Campbell said the assistance is just that “assistance” and said assessments must be completed to ensure compliance.
“Social Services takes its lead from the belief of fulfilling a human being’s three most basic items in time of need – food, shelter and clothing,” Minister Campbell told residents. “Social Services is more than just about assistance though, it is our prayer that while assisting our clients in the short term, we would have also helped to empower them so that they can become sufficiently independent to be able to remove themselves from the assistance programme.” The Town Hall Meeting in Acklins was part of the whirlwind tour Minister Campbell and Minister for the Public Service and National Insurance, the Hon. Brensil A. Rolle, made during an Official Visit to Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Cay from Wednesday, January 29, to Saturday, February 1, 2020.
While Minister Campbell spoke on matters relating to the role of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, including child protection matters, Minister Rolle, led the discussion on the role of the Ministry for Public Service, in addition to how the National Insurance Scheme works for employed and self-employed persons; how contributions are paid, in addition to the benefits available through the Board and how to access those benefits. He also addressed the importance of ensuring that National Insurance contributions are being paid. The two Ministers spent the four days apprising residents of the roles their Ministries, Dept and/or Divisions play in the delivery of social assistance and national insurance benefits; what the assistance, benefits, and programmes entail, and how they can more readily access the assistance/programmes/benefits.
They also visited six schools, facilitated separate Town Meetings in Acklins and Crooked Island, in addition to assessing government and other buildings housing staff of the two Ministries. Ministers Campbell and Rolle were accompanied by senior government officials including Mrs. Lilian Quant-Forbes, Director, Department of Social Services; Senator, the Hon. Sharon A. Knowles, Deputy Director, Urban Renewal; Mrs. Rhonda Thurston-Ingraham, Assistant Director – Core Operations, the National Insurance Board, and Mrs. Seanalea Lewis, Chief Welfare Officer, Child Protection Unit, Department of Social Services. The delegation was joined by Mrs. Miriam Emmanuel, the Member of Parliament for MICAL which comprises Mayaguana, Inagua, Crooked Island, Acklins and Long Cay, in addition to staff of both Ministries resident on the islands.