PATH Community Engagement Series to educate beneficiaries
RESIDENTS OF several St James communities will become the first beneficiaries of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s newly launched Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH) Community Engagement Series, which is geared toward teaching them how the programme works and how it will benefit them.
While the participants’ turnout was small during the programme’s launch at the St John’s Methodist Church in Montego Bay, St James, on Wednesday, those in attendance expressed confidence that it would help them to navigate the challenges they now face in collecting their PATH payments.
Beverly Thompson, a 70-year-old resident of Cambridge district, said she hoped the programme’s educational sessions would assist in rectifying an issue she has encountered due to sharing the same name with another beneficiary.
“I went to collect my PATH payment last week, and yesterday (Tuesday) the lady from the post office called me and said that there are two of us (who) have the same name. I was saying, ‘Why didn’t they rectify it at that time?’ since I already collected two such cheques without a middle name and two with a middle name,” Thompson explained.
“I said that I want to rectify the problem because it looks like I won’t get to collect PATH anymore. I think they (ministry representatives) will answer whatever questions we have about PATH,” Thompson added, in commenting on the Community Engagement Series’ projected success.
Delta Rashford, an 85-year-old resident of Retirement district, was likewise hopeful about the engagement series’ effectiveness after having previously heard the announcement about its anticipated launch.
“I heard the announcement and heard them talking about this programme, and I sat down and listened and I said, ‘Boy, I need a little help because I am old now’. I feel good about it, and I feel it could help me because I can’t work again, so I am hoping they can help me through this initiative,” said Rashford.
The PATH Community Engagement Series is seeking to target 239 communities across Jamaica over a six-month period, in order to identify the various needs of the residents who will be impacted and to collect data in order to refine the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s service offerings.
In 2002, the Government of Jamaica introduced the PATH programme in an effort to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in many communities and to help children from poor families to attend school and stay healthy.
But while the programme has reported having positively impacted many Jamaicans through delivery of cash benefits and the introduction of a comprehensive suite of supporting interventions, concerns have arisen that some residents might not be accessing the programme’s provisions in some remote locations, as intended.
Addressing Wednesday’s launch, Audrey Deer-Williams, the chief technical director with responsibility for the Ministry of Labour’s Social Security Division, emphasised the PATH programme’s intended goal of bettering beneficiaries’ living standards over time.
“In this our 20th year of celebration, it is our objective to continue the task of increasing educational attainment and improving health outcomes of the poor by breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty. This means that we want to ensure that every generation has a better standard of living than the previous one,” said Deer-Williams.
“PATH serves as a safety net to prevent families from falling further into poverty in the event of something happening. We want to ensure that every family or individual that needs access to a social assistance programme knows how to apply and what documents are required,” Deer-Williams added.