VSA extends social support through its community-based program.

PHILIPSBURG:—In the month of April, the Ministry of VSA launched the second phase of its Food Voucher Program, which offers residents most in need with financial assistance for basic necessities in the form of food vouchers. The registration for the second phase of the program, officially ended on June 5th, with the general needs of an approximate 1.600 registrants assessed. The emphasis of the entire program is in the assessment and ultimately granting tangible as well as intangible support, psycho-social and social support for those who are in need of such and therefor offering more than food vouchers.

“Deriving out of the program assessment, persons have already been able to tap into available services such as food vouchers, financial assistance, counseling, social support and other empowerment activities to improve their overall wellbeing. One of the immediate benefits of this community-based approach of the program is that it will enable the Ministry of VSA to have a better scope of the needs of our community and its people and make and eventual match with the services Government can and is providing. Focus is on intervention strategies and programs that will be drafted to assist those mostly affected by the 2017 hurricanes and facilitate a path to move forward, empowered and complete. The concept of a community-based approach shows the vision and reediness of the Ministry to take these social services to the people within their communities by using a low threshold approach, with the aim for a more inclusive outcome.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health

The program started in five locations within the community, namely the three Community Help Desks in Cole Bay, St. Peters and Dutch Quarter and two additional temporary desks namely, the John Larmonie Center and Simpson Bay Community Center. The temporary desks were created in order to accommodate a larger population within the launch period. Persons who are still in need of counseling and/or social assistance can visit the Community Help Desks during opening hours for registration and assistance. The Community Help Desks are open for registration from 8:30am-12:30 pm and from 2:00-5:00 pm.

The registration process is digital and enables on the spot registration for persons with special disabilities or needs, as the Community Officers and the District Workers are also conducting registration services at the individuals’ homes. Qualifying persons will receive a follow-up call for their appointments for the requested services.

“The Ministry has made registration requirements available in the various communities. Community Officers and the District workers are still conducting fieldwork ensuring that minimum persons falls through the social cracks and ensuring registration of the various needs presented by community individuals to register persons. I would like to thank those persons who have registered for their good cooperation and patience and voluntarily sharing their social situation with the team members of the department of Community Development, and as such, giving us better insight in the real situation of the residents in order for us to assist in a more effective way the communities at large. I’m very proud of the team as together we continue to find efficient ways to support our residents and ensure that those in need can have access to available Government services.” – Emil Lee, Minister of Public Health.

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Source: St. Martin News Network http://www.smn-news.com/st-maarten-st-martin-news/29501-vsa-extends-social-support-through-its-community-based-program.html