More People Need Basic Assistance: Family Support Network

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Based on the response that the Family Support Network received following the Government’s invitation for persons who ran out of food to contact the organization, it seems that many households currently on lockdown did not have enough to last the remaining days indoor.

Although residents were given three days to shop for all they would need to weather the 14-day curfew that commenced from 9:00 p.m. on 4 April many residents seemed to have run out of food before 19 April when the curfew is expected to end. In response to this, the Premier Hon.  Andrew Fahie announced that arrangements were made to enable nonprofit organizations like the BVI Red Cross and the Family Support Network to meet this need.

However, it seems that the offer for help was expected by more persons than was anticipated and as such the Family Support Network was inundated with more calls than the three full time employees could have handled and residents in need who were unable to get their calls answered vented on social media.

The situation that was spawned by a lack of supplies was explained by Director of the Family Support Network Ms. Sasha Stoutt during her 14 April guest appearance on the Honestly Speaking with Claude Skelton-Cline radio programme.

In explaining that the situation exceeded planning Stoutt said that there were instances where discretion had to be used. “People are asking me well what’s the criteria to get the assistance and yes there is criteria but then there is also people who need assistance and what am I supposed to tell them…,” the Director noted.

She explained that when persons call to make use of this service the FSN would assess their needs. “The first thing we are going to do is a psycho-social report…it’s not going to be overly extensive but it is going to have a good bit of questions. What we have done is to be able to capture the most important demographic information to make sure that we know – for one – your family size.”

“We wanted to make sure that we definitely weed out the individuals that would be able to assist themselves at that time and really focus on those who are vulnerable. Once we had that information then we were able to establish whether we can assist you and how we would be able to best assist you,” she explained.

The Director of the Family Support Network pointed out that once it was ascertained who were the persons qualified for the assistance their items would be packaged and delivered to their door within 24 hours.

The service of providing food to the needy is said to have commenced more intensely prior to the 14-day lockdown. Ms. Stout further mentioned that the FSN received funding for this worthwhile community service from the Premier’s Office, Rotary Club, and the Social Security Board. It was mentioned that even private families and individuals assisted.

However the media learned that the demand has now grown somewhat exponentially. It was explained that as a means of better responding to community needs the Family Support Network is currently in conversation with the BVI Red Cross and the Social Development Department to form a team to assist the people of the Territory more effectively.

Meanwhile the FSN Director pointed out that more public support can propel the work. In this instance she said that the FSN currently needs financial and voluntary assistance so that it could be able to maintain what it is currently doing in terms of providing food to families in need.

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