Welfare applications increase because of job losses due to COVID
The Welfare Department has reported an increase in the number of applications for back-to-school assistance as the new school year commences on September 21.
Chief Welfare Officer, Deborah Norville, revealed that this hike was largely due to the number of persons laid off as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. She asserted that the Welfare Department was working diligently to process applications for parents seeking to ready their children for the new academic year.
Norville revealed that the pandemic has caused several changes in the department in terms of the procession of applications.
She explained that face-to-face in-office interviews between welfare officers and clients have been temporarily suspended because the cramped workspaces at welfare offices did not allow for the observance of physical distancing. Instead, interviews were now being conducted via the telephone.
Additionally, persons requesting assistance are required to visit the welfare office in the parish in which they reside, or its headquarters at the Weymouth Corporate Centre, Roebuck Street, St Michael, and complete the application forms, which are available there.
Norville stressed that it was important for applicants to provide a contact number on the form so they can be reached by welfare officers for the telephone interview. She guaranteed that everyone who has applied for assistance will be contacted by a welfare officer.
“The Welfare Department remains committed to serving the most vulnerable in our society, and we thank members of the public for their patience as we seek to process the exponential increase in applications for various services during this most difficult period," said the chief welfare officer.