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Sharlan Deosaran of the Ministry’s ICT Department navigates the newly redesigned website with Minister Donna Cox and the Executive Officer for the Trinidad and Tobago Blind Welfare Association, Kenneth Suratt during the launch of the ministry’s Website yesterday.

The Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, which is responsible for issuing social grants to assist those mainly affected by the virus has launched a new website (www.social.gov.tt).

The country is into its eight month of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox, the goal of the new site is to improve the ministry’s effectiveness by highlighting the scope of services provided, ensuring services are more accessible and user-friendly, and to provide better communication for the most vulnerable.

The ministry distributes social support grants such as public and rental assistance for those who lost their jobs or started receiving a reduced income because of COVID-19.

Several numbers were given for citizens to call for assistance but during the ceremony yesterday, Minister Cox admitted that many people were unable to access the ministry.

“I’m certain you are aware of the many complaints you’ve received on a daily basis from persons who, for a multitude of reasons, are unable to access the ministry’s services or who have tried repeatedly to contact the ministry without success,” Cox continued.

She said the website should solve some of these issues and save time and resources for the average citizens during this time.

Last week the minister announced that over $5 billion was spent in 2020 to provide social support for those in need, with over 173,000 individuals and families receiving grants. The application for grants remains open.

Although COVID-19 remains high on the agenda, the new website caters for more than just grant applications with accessibility for the elderly and disabled.

Head of the Blind Welfare Association Kenneth Suratt welcomed the inclusivity.

“They just didn’t include us, they consulted with us,” Suratt said. “We believe persons who are blind must do things for themselves when they can,” he continued.

Suratt said one of their main concerns of the visually-impaired community has been access to information.