Government of the Bahamas

06/24/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 06/24/2020 15:36

Social Services Minister meets with senior Grand Bahama Parliamentary Caucus

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama - Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, Friday (June 19) met with senior members of the Grand Bahama Parliamentary Caucus who were on-island during Minister Campbell's two-day Official Visit to Grand Bahama Thursday, June 18, through Friday, June 19.

Hosted at the Department of Social Services Headquarters in Freeport, the meeting was designed to, among other things, officially introduce Mrs. Charlamae Fernander as the Head of the Department of Social Services for Grand Bahama and the Northern Bahamas; to provide senior managers with the opportunity to share - with the Parliamentary Caucus - some of their challenges and concerns, in addition to some of the impediments that might be resulting in the frustration that some external clients are facing in receiving assistance; for the Caucus to share their own concerns, and finally to see how those concerns could be 'married' to ensure that the Department's internal customers (staff) are facilitated, accommodated and placed in a position where: 'they are in an environment that will facilitate the kind of productivity that is necessary for the external customer to get the service that they rightly deserve with the minimum amount of frustration.'

The Meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest (Member of Parliament for East, Grand Bahama); Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction, the Hon. Iram D. Lewis (Member of Parliament for Central Grand Bahama); Senator, the Hon. J. Kwasi Thompson, Minister of State for Grand Bahama; Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Mrs. Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, (Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and Bimini); and Senator, the Hon. Jasmin Turner-Dareus, Deputy Director Urban Renewal.

'We had candid sharing, candid dialogue (and) we all now have greater appreciation on both sides,' Minister Campbell told on-island media personnel during a press conference that followed the Meeting. 'The Parliamentary Caucus was able to see the constraints under which the office here is functioning. In the final analysis there is a great appreciation for what the team here at Social Services, is doing, has been doing, and will continue to do.'

Minister Campbell also took the opportunity to once again applaud the staff at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development across the Commonwealth, and particularly those in Grand Bahama and Abaco who were 'hard hit' by the monster storm, Hurricane Dorian, for their yeomen's work in continuing to provide services and assistance to the many regular clients, while taking on the expanded duty of providing services and assistance to new clients as a result of the negative impacts of the Hurricane and the presence of the COVID-19 Pandemic - the latter of which has negatively impacted global economies.

Minister Campbell made a similar gesture during his Contribution to the 2020/2021 National Budget Debate in the House of Assembly, June 10.

'The Ministry was impacted, the Department was impacted because we lost our offices in Freeport and Abaco; we lost files, we lost furniture, but the staff rose to the occasion, returning to work as quickly as possible, sitting on crates as they continued to give service to regular and new clients even while their families were in need, even while their homes were destroyed and/or damaged, and they continued to provide that assistance through the presence of the COVID-19 Pandemic,' Minister Campbell said at that time.

'This team can be likened to any championship team. It is indeed a team, a collective group of persons working together for one, common purpose. Our focus is to deliver to, and for, the most vulnerable amongst us. To deliver to and for those who hurt, those who are hurting, those who are in need, those who may have fallen through the cracks, those who may just need a boost. That is the purpose and overall objective of this team. This is a hardworking team, a team that I am proud to be a part of.

'We know that there have been some outstanding issues here in Grand Bahama as it relates to the various assistance that persons would have applied for dating back to Dorian and onto COVID-19 and so we were able to provide the Parliamentary Caucus with an update on those matters and so I am satisfied that the meeting was a very productive meeting.'

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest, concurred with Minister Campbell's assessment of the meeting.

'I thank Minister Campbell for arranging this meeting this morning to enlighten some of us who may not be fully aware of all of the services that are available through the Department of Social Services, and Urban Renewal,' the Deputy Prime Minister said. '(As a result of this meeting) we have been placed in a better position where we can better advise our constituents as to the services that are available, and how they may be able to access those services.

'I too would like to thank the Department of Social Services for the tremendous effort that they have been making not only to address the Hurricane Dorian challenges, but also this new COVID-19 experience which has brought tremendous hardship to even more of our citizens both here in Grand Bahama and the northern Bahamas, but also throughout The Bahamas and so the effort that you are making certainly has not gone unnoticed,' Mr. Turnquest added.