Civil Servants and elected government officials are doing their part to support the community under a new “CIG Cares” initiative previously announced by the Deputy Governor.
The community support programme ties in with Government’s strategic broad outcome to create “stronger communities and support for the most vulnerable.”
Civil servants can opt in to the initiative via monthly payroll deductions (beginning in July and running until December 2020), a one-time lump sum contribution or a combination of both. Signing up is simple and can be done via the COVID-19 Employee Donation Form found by link www.exploregov.ky/community-covid19. A valid Employee Number will be needed to complete the form. Opting out at any time is permitted.
Initially, funds raised by CIG Cares will support the food voucher programme run by the Needs Assessment Unit (NAU). The NAU has seen increased demand for its services during the COVID-19 period and urgent need, particularly from elderly Caymanians.
Chief Officer in the Ministry of Community Affairs Teresa Echenique says “We civil servants are fortunate not to have been impacted by pay cuts or job losses, but we are cognisant not everyone in the Cayman Islands can say the same. We have seen a significant demand in requests for NAU (Needs Assessment Unit) services over the past months, so I am grateful to the Deputy Governor for leading the CIG Cares programme and to all civil servants who are generously supporting the essential work performed by the NAU.”
Tamara Hurlston, the NAU Director says she is thankful to all organisations that have provided support to their clients over the years, including fellow civil servants that have supported various NAU initiatives annually.
Julie Faulknor-Grant, Compliance and Operational Manager, elaborates: “Civil servants’ donations will be used in the food voucher programme to provide our most vulnerable clients with the opportunity to put food on the table for themselves and their families. I am strongly of the belief that no one should go without food, especially our most vulnerable clients such as our children, disabled and elderly members of our society. I strongly encourage all civil servants to support this selfless cause where they will not only be helping these families but will be leading by example.
“Consider this: for every $150.00 donation that is collected throughout the civil service, this will provide a small household with the means to purchase healthier foods for themselves and their families as opposed to buying cheap fast foods which research has shown could lead towards persons developing high risk illnesses such as Diabetes, high cholesterol, etc.”
Melissa Smith, Deputy Director at the NAU, says the Unit is appreciative of the focused support from the CIG Cares programme as a means to support Caymanian families who are in need.
She adds: “This is a win-win initiative where the Unit is able to provide interim assistance and persons who are in dire need are able to access services to meet the need.”
The NAU supports those in the community who are determined, by their assessments, to be vulnerable and in need of support. The NAU currently supports more than 3,000 Caymanian families, providing food vouchers, rental assistance, assistance with utilities and burial assistance.
Based on the demand created by the COVID-19 crisis, Cabinet has already allocated additional funding to the NAU budget. To date, approximately 69% of those supplementary funds have been utilised and it is anticipated that the needs of the community will continue to increase. It is also important to note that a significant proportion (42%) of the NAU’s clients are seniors.
After the first four months, civil servants will have the ability to direct their donation to another CIG Cares initiative (a registered local charity) from a short-list of charities nominated by the Civil Service. They will be able to make donations to the chosen charities in the lead up to the holiday season in November and December.
Hon. Franz Manderson says he is “aware that during the past four months, the private sector has stepped up and donated many thousands of dollars to charities across the Islands and the Civil Service is keen to be part of the solution. I am very proud that we have launched CIG Cares.”
“I encourage government owned companies and statutory authorities to follow the Civil Service’s lead and support the vulnerable in our communities. The NAU food voucher programme addresses a very real and urgent need. We all have an opportunity to be part of the solution - I truly believe that not one person should go hungry in the Cayman Islands.”