Up to six years or so ago, the Parish Welfare system had been the safety net for the more vulnerable in our society, and had been in existence for many years. In In January of 2008, it was replaced by the new Income Support system administered centrally by the Ministry of Social Security. The new system has simplified the payment of benefits and is generally fairer, easier to understand.
But the old Parish welfare system was not just about money, it was equally about the Constable and his staff knowing and talking with the people who needed support to help them live independently in the community. Many used to attend the Parish Hall on a weekly basis not just to collect their money, but also for a general chat and discussion of any problems that may be bothering them. In this way a good rapport was established between parishioners and the Parish Hall staff. With the introduction of centrally-administered Income Support, this sort of personal contact has been lost, and with it some of the community benefits the Parishes could offer.
The valuable tradition of help in the community has been rekindled in the parish of St Clement by the establishment of a Community Support Team consisting of some now 40 dedicated and caring volunteers with a wide spectrum of experience and expertise, led by its Chairman, Chris Le Cornu – a former member of the Parish Welfare Committee.
Support is offered in whatever way is appropriate to the needs of the individual, perhaps in lifts to the Hospital or GP for appointments, assisting with shopping, completing application forms, or simply being a friendly face to chat with. In some cases, people need only be pointed in the direction of a more appropriate agency, such as Citizens’ Advice Bureau, for best advice on their particular problem, such as budgeting. But whatever the need, the St Clement Community Support team will be there and available to give advice.
Indeed the Team has now assisted in one way or another 360 families in the parish.
St Clément Support Team Co-ordinator
St Clément Parish Hall