The relationship between government and the Society of St Vincent de Paul (‘the Society’ and ‘SVP’) remains cordial, according to the report from SVP’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), held on Sunday, September 23 at Presentation College, Chaguanas.
The two major collaborators are the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services and the Ministry of Health, North West Regional Health Authority, with the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender Affairs), disburse the subventions to the Society. The disbursements however, are not done in a timely manner and the extent of the subventions is problematic.
The Society also provides for the upkeep of its elderly residents who are unable to cash their pension cheques or obtain benefit because of inability to obtain birth certificates.
Over the course of the year, the local SVP was represented internationally and regionally in Quito, Ecuador and Kingston, Jamaica. The National President Rudolph Boneo was present at the Quito meeting where the new International Strategic Plan was discussed as well as improving the membership numbers of people under thirty.
At the Jamaica meeting the vulnerability of the island states to hurricanes was the main issue at hand with the view to lobbying Governments to ensure effective disaster plans are in place.
From an operational standpoint vacant rooms in all of the Homes remain a concern, and SVP is now advertising the vacancies in both print and electronic media with the hope of filling the rooms.
The stigma exists that the institutions are for the poor, and further, persons now “enjoy some degree of state largesse and they are unwilling to part with any portion of this to offset accommodation needs”.
SVP has done repair work on the ladies’ toilet at the Rigsby Pius Charles Home, Arima; the roof of the Cyril Ross Nursery; windows, kitchen and toilets at the Ozanam Hostel. Toilets, bathrooms and kitchen counters were tiled, some electrical work and painting at the Nazareth Halfway Home. Work at the Audrey Mollineau Home will continue in the new year once funding has been acquired.
The Society is also focusing attention on the issue of immigrant and refugees. Talks with the Living Water Community (LWC) and the US Bishop Catholic Relief Organization has resulted in properties owned by SVP identified for repair so they can be use to house families forced to leave their countries.
Collaborations with LWC and Foundation for the Enhancement & Enrichment of Life (FEEL) have occurred in order to combine efforts to purchase foodstuff from major suppliers so better prices can be accessed. – SD