Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler, (far right) listens to the concerns of staff of the Welfare Department
As one of the main arms of Government which provide social services to the people of Barbados, the Welfare Department’s challenges range from the lack of inadequate accommodation for staffers and cramped conditions, and an inadequate number of social workers to deal with the case-load, to the perception that it is an uncaring institution, and “this is an untidy situation that must be forcefully corrected”.
This observation was made today by new Minister of Social Care, Christopher Sinckler, who was speaking to the news media during a tour of the main office of that agency at Coles Building, Bay Street.
Pointing to the issue of appropriate accommodation, which he stressed was a problem across the public service, Minister Sinckler said he would be impressing on his colleagues on the Cabinet Subcommittee on Social Policy, of which he is Chairman, “to pay full attention to this urgent matter”.
On the matter of the heavy work-load of the social workers in the department, Mr. Sinckler said that he would be speaking to the current Minister of Civil Service, the Prime Minister, to see how this problem could be rectified. “There is a need for more officers,” he stressed.
Zeroing in on the problem of some residents not being serviced by the Welfare Department in their parish, Mr. Sinckler revealed that workers from the Christ Church branch were now operating from the main office, those for St. Joseph were working from St. George, and those who should be in St. James were located in Speightstown.
He said that it was “an untidy situation” which the Ministry had to address and correct it with some forcefulness.
Referring to the perception that some staff of the Welfare Department were “unsympathetic and insensitive to the needs of its clients”, the Minister said that although there were procedures that had to be followed in the public service, some positive balance between following procedures and processes and treating clients had to be created to provide clients with timely services, without compromising the system on which clients had to rely.
He added: “We cannot allow the odd person to cast a dark colour on the majority, most of whom would want to be congenial. We must work with those persons to ensure that they follow that path and that we can have a reasonably good relationship.”