All hands were on deck this week at the Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association (SLHTA) as work continued on the introduction and expansion of training programmes.
Psychosocial Support Volunteers Programme (PSVP)
The PSVP is in concert with the Ministry of Equity, Social Justice and Empowerment, and is aimed at strengthening Saint Lucia’s mental health and support services. It is in response to a call from the World Health Organization (WHO), imploring countries to increase mental health services, since the pandemic triggered a ‘25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide.’
The Ministry notes that experiencing loss, pain and violence increase the vulnerability of individuals and if not properly addressed, can lead to additional social issues in households, communities and the nation. The Ministry’s mandate is to provide the necessary social protection services to help the vulnerable and reduce the number of people who may fall in this category.
“The Ministry notes that traumatic events can be mitigated by providing psychosocial support. Any type of crisis can have a profound impact on and cause long-term disruption in all aspects of daily life…and feelings of isolation, uncertainty, fear, anger, loss and sadness can result. Long-term exposure to crisis or conflict, if not mitigated properly, can be harmful to both physical and mental health.”
To this end, the programme will target fifty professionally screened volunteers from across the island and train them to assist in the provision of psychosocial support within their respective communities.
The volunteers will receive instruction in seven areas:
1. Conflict Resolution & Mediation
2. Effective Communication
3. Substance Abuse
4. Gender-Based Violence
5. Psychosocial Support
6. Grief & Suicide Prevention
7. Community Action Planning
The programme is slated to commence by December 2022.
On-The-Job Training Programme
The expansion of the Tourism Enhancement Fund’s On-The-Job Training Programme is moving full steam ahead, following the receipt of grant financing from the Government of Saint Lucia. The grant will fund, inter alia mobilization efforts, orientation seminars, psychosocial counseling and stipends for trainees.
Under the programme, participants receive on-the-job training at hotels and restaurants as well as Customer Service and Personal Development training. One hundred young people are set to benefit from the expansion of the programme!
The training areas are as follows:
HD X HC Apprenticeship Farm and Programme
The SLHTA also wishes to commend members Helen’s Daughters and Hotel Chocolat, who have teamed up to empower women, and play their part in lowering the food import bill, via an Apprenticeship Farm and Programme.
The solar-powered farm is located at Hotel Chocolat, Soufriere and consists of two ponds (irrigation and storage), a nursery and ten greenhouses. It will be used to grow organic produce that will then be purchased by the hotel for use in their kitchen. Two 18-year-old apprentices Pearleter Felix and Kurissa Augustin are attached to the farm.
During the November 18 launch of the initiative, Founder of Helen’s Daughters Keithlin Caroo noted: “This is the first time that an all-female agri-tourism apprenticeship programme exists where young women like Pearleter and Kurissa can run an agri-business on a hotel property and we are committed to seeing this apprenticeship program run annually, similar to our scholarship program at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College. As someone said recently- in many schools English is compulsory while Agriculture is optional, hence we speak good English with no food. We are committed to changing that!”
SLHTA CEO Noorani Azeez has lauded the members for the collaboration. “What an amazing accomplishment,” he said. “We stand here at the SLHTA and we look upon you in awe and inspiration. It’s such a pleasure to be here today and to see the next generation of young ladies who are stepping up to the plate and embracing the challenge of feeding our people.”
“The success of tourism is very contingent on a successful agricultural belt. When we look at 1.2 million visitors or so coming on our shores a year, compared to a population size of 180,000 people, what an amazing market size and opportunity for our farmers, if we can get our systems properly in sync to feed that need.”