Press briefing on the COVID Community Engagement Project – November 17, 2021. (PMO)

With Government’s new COVID Community Engagement Project set to be implemented on Friday, November 19, emphasis will be placed on training participants to understand the knowledge, attitudes, behaviour and practices of communities.

This was underscored today by Social Worker and Counsellor with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Susette Neblett-Straughn, as she addressed a media briefing hosted by Public Advisor on COVID-19, David Ellis, that highlighted her team’s role in the initiative.

Stressing that the training for the project would help the group to strategise on how to work with communities to keep them safe and empower them, Mrs. Neblett-Straughn added: “We don’t just want to go into communities and give them skills, impart knowledge, and then leave them like that; we want to have follow up being done. And, that follow up would be ably done by the gatekeepers, those community persons they know well enough, and those persons would feed back to us – the team that has been set up.”

She continued: “We also would want to engage the community at a very personal level. We want persons to understand we’re not coming to take over your communities; we’re coming to assist…. We want you to meet with us and work with us to improve your community. You tell us what the issues are; we get information through our survey and together we work as a team to improve your community.”

The social worker, who further explained that the effort would seek to ensure persons understood where they could access resources, said: “Because if we identify barriers to keeping your COVID protocols up, and then we just identify those barriers and leave it there, that’s really not going to help us or help them.

“So, we would also want that they understand where they can access basic things such as masks, such as hand sanitiser [and] important [telephone] numbers. We don’t want to leave them without that information. If they ask us anything, and we’re not in a position to answer at that point in time, we want to be able to follow up and that’s where community leaders become involved.”

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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