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Montserrat Red Cross Food Voucher Programme Assists 500 Children

The Montserrat Red Cross announced today it had completed the Care Project, which was a response to the COVID-19 crisis to support vulnerable children here.

On the ZJB Radio Morning Show, Red Cross Director Glenn Francis gave a report of the project including feedback from a sample of the clients served.

The project, which ran from June 6 to October 6, 2020, provided $300 food vouchers for children who were on the Social Services vulnerable household list. Each child was eligible for three vouchers. Francis said the Red Cross’ project was to ensure that children were taken care of as they felt the Social Services support programme of food packages and a $900 per household payout had been inadequate.

Francis said the organisation applied for donor funding and was granted assistance in the amount of $159,611 channeled through the British Red Cross.

To be eligible children had to be under 18, be listed as a recipient of Social Services support and be willing to share their data with the Montserrat Red Cross.

The 500 children on the vulnerable list represented 277 families with an average of 1.8 children per household. Each family received an average of $537 from the CARE project.

A total of 1494 vouchers were allocated with six unclaimed. Of the 1494 vouchers distributed 1490 were used in the supermarkets, representing a 99.7% efficiency, Francis shared. A total of $148,888 went directly to local families via the project.

They were able to save on the project administrative costs and they plan to request of the donor that the balance be put into their needs programme.

A random sample of 80 households found that 58% of respondents thought supermarket vouchers was the best way to channel funds to them.  21% would have preferred direct deposit.

10% of beneficiaries thought the criteria for inclusion was unclear.  100% of respondents were satisfied with the service they received from the Montserrat Red Cross.

One failing Francis said, was the belief that the larger supermarkets would be the most efficient operations for managing the food vouchers. However, this was fraught with delays in some instances and it also meant that smaller shops missed out on the opportunity to gain much-needed revenue. The project utilised Awe Shopping Centre, Deepak, Rams, Victors, Angelos and Aravins supermarkets.

The official noted that it was disconcerting to discover that some families spent all of their vouchers in the first weekend they received them. This meant an average of $900 to $1200 spent. Others were able to have vouchers available for spending up until the end of the programme.

Francis expressed thanks to the Social Services Department which he called a real partner in their execution of the project, along with the donor agency, the volunteers and the supermarkets.

He called for the establishment of a national list which NGOs could access, which could reduce the time it takes to get help to people, prevents double dipping and people falling through the cracks.