??Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett (FP)

Government’s assistance to the more vulnerable members of society must not be misinterpreted as a "hand out".

This assertion was made by Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, during his address at the graduation ceremony and exhibition of the Community Development Department’s Community Impact Programme (CIP), last Saturday evening.

Alluding to high unemployment and increasing levels of poverty, Mr. Blackett stated that Government had accepted its "responsibility as the provider of an adequate social safety net", but was not in the habit of giving "handouts".

"If embedded in this concept, assistance will just be a form of "welfarism" which has no place in any empowerment programme. ???Handouts’ must be replaced by ???handups’," the Social Care Minister asserted.

He noted that whilst persons who have been severely affected by the recession have been forced to turn to the State for assistance, he contended that there needed to be "a paradigm shift as far as the delivery of personal social services is concerned…The strengths of the persons involved [should] be recognised and used to fuel their empowerment.?? State assistance then becomes an enabling tool and not a never-ending intervention of stabilisation."

Minister Blackett highlighted the CIP as one such initiative to encourage self-sufficiency, in order to ensure survival. He listed cake and pastry making, leather craft, tailoring, drapery making, dress design and basketry, as some of the skills offered.

"The majority of the skills taught as part of the Community Impact Programme are income generating.?? As a consequence, many of those participating have been able to develop small businesses.?? For others the programme has been the stimulus to pursue advanced training in the respective skill," Mr. Blackett said.

During the ceremony, 84 persons received certificates for successfully completing the programme.


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