Permanent Secretary of the MSDFS, Mrs. Jacinta Bailey-Sobers receives face masks and hand sanitizers from BHP’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Dr. Carla Noel-Mendez, at the Ministry’s Head Office on Tuesday. (Image: Ministry of Social Development and Family Services)

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) currently is undertaking house visits to applicants who have requested social assistance grants, to help them through the COVID-19 crisis, in a bid to weed out justified claims from fraudulent ones.

According to a news release for the Ministry, following the implementation of stay at home restrictions on April 1, 2020, the Ministry has received in excess of 900 applications for rental support in Trinidad.

The Ministry reports that 90 per cent of these applications are actively being processed and verified via telephone and house visits by staff. It says the house visits have become necessary in an attempt to counter fraudulent claims for assistance, which are being encountered daily.

The Ministry is appealing to applicants to be honest in their declarations, as well as mindful of the impact of untruthful or questionable claims on the overall system and timeline for rental assistance approvals.

Meanwhile, the Ministry’s frontline staff, as well as those engaged in site visits for the verification of applications regarding rental assistance and income support, recently received assistance themselves, with a major donation of face masks and cases of hand sanitizer from BHP Trinidad and Tobago.

BHP’s Manager of Corporate Affairs, Dr. Carla Noel-Mendez, made the presentation to MSDFS Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Jacinta Bailey-Sobers, on Tuesday 19 May 2020.

The donation comprised 1,000 face masks—triple layered, reusable, and locally produced—along with several boxes of hand sanitizer.

Dr. Noel-Mendez commended the Executive and staff of the Ministry for their on-going efforts to bring relief to the thousands of vulnerable citizens, who have been impacted by this country’s stay at home restrictions.

“Your efforts are just as critical and necessary at a time like this, as those who are employed within the medical field and the protective services,” she pointed out.  “As such, BHP is pleased to supply the Ministry with these protective items, as part of its continued commitment to the general health and well-being of all communities.”

Permanent Secretary Bailey-Sobers noted that the supplies were indeed timely and in direct support of all on-going efforts to bring relief efficiently and expeditiously to those who are genuinely in need at this time.

“Sometimes our staff members who are responsible for field assessments encounter unsanitary and risky conditions,” she observed, “and as such, these masks would be invaluable, in protecting the personal health and safety of these field officers.”