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As the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment continues to strengthen the existing Social Protection System to better serve all vulnerable groups, the Ministry convened a first meeting of the Saint Lucia Homelessness Steering Committee in July 2022 to discuss coordinated approaches for more effective service delivery to homeless persons in Saint Lucia.
Chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Velda Joseph, the forum brought together representatives of various Governmental, Non-Governmental and Humanitarian Organization, in keeping with the listed composition of the Homeless Steering Committee.
The Committee was established on May 18, 2009 (Cabinet Conclusion 498/2009) as part of Saint Lucia’s National Emergency Management Plan but had remained inactive for some time.
The meeting was attended by representatives from a wide cross-section of Ministries/Agencies and Organizations that provide services to homeless persons.
At the meeting, Social Transformation Officers for the Castries & Gros-Islet regions presented an in-depth review of the existing Emergency Response Plan for the Homeless and facilitated discussions on suggestions for updating the plan.
Discussions also focused on immediate or short-term responses to address issues facing homeless persons and strategies for ensuring better coordination towards improved service delivery.
The Committee agreed on several recommendations made, including the need for expanding the existing committee to include other key agencies/organizations that provide services to the homeless population, mapping existing services being provided as well as the service providers, developing a plan of action to gather more reliable data on issues pertaining to homeless persons and expanding the scope of emergencies covered under the existing response plan.
The meeting ended with an agreement for representatives of each organization to define their specific roles inclusive of the services that they provide to homeless persons for discussions at a follow up meeting.
Members of the steering committee reaffirmed their commitment to participate in the discussions and agreed that cooperation and coordination among all actors is critical to the committee’s success and effectiveness in carrying out its mandate.
The Ministry of Equity, Social Justice, and Empowerment regards homelessness as a complex social issue that requires attention not only in disasters but also in everyday life.
The Ministry is pleased with the level of engagement demonstrated by the agencies that attended this initial meeting and looks forward to a deeper level of cooperation as the committee’s work progresses.
SOURCE: Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment