Welfare Hub-The Gambia, a Gambian owned non-profitable organisation aimed at providing free mentorship and social welfare services to people has commenced its programs.
The three-week-old organisation, according to its founder and financier, Aisha Cham is aimed at providing a range of services that have been developed to provide healthy and informative resources for individual and general wellbeing of the public.
“Throughout my time as a welfare worker in the UK I have been thinking about what I can bring to the Gambia from the UK,” she told The Standard in an exclusive interview recently.
The organisation’s core value, she said, is to inform and educate society about their welfare and how to live a healthy and balanced life style.
She said it is due to that she started writing things that she believes can benefit Gambians, “My interest from the beginning is to make the social welfare vibrant in the Gambia so that people can really have good service. Because we notice that there is a gap between health and social welfare in the country.”
“We are aware that people are not aware of the importance of social welfare. We want to change that by letting people know that social welfare is also important. It will not be easy to tell people to change their lifestyles but we have the firm believe that together we will be there,” she said.
On the first symposium held by the oraganisation with young people at the Sukuta health centre, Mrs Cham said the first meeting with young people from diverse groups and organisations was very significant for the organisation’s formative days.
“The meeting with the young people have given us idea on what to expect from henceforth,” she said.
She also hailed the former health minister Omar Sey for his overwhelming support for the organisation, “Without Omar Sey’s support there would not have been any welfare hub at the first place. He is an impression and I have to say he played a very crucial role to convince me to form the organisation.”
“Welfare Hub-The Gambia services will constitute different dimensions and compositions of diverse health and wellbeing needs of the society. It will reflect on the existing issues/challenges and render support on how to tackle them,” she said.
The Hub, she added, will facilitate and compliment the agenda of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
“It will develop and create working partnership and foster mutual understanding and capacity building. It will focus on Child Protection, Youths, Women Affairs/Gender issues, physically and learning difficulties/disabilities, Counselling/appraisals/supervisions, Health promotions Employment Responsibilities/Rights, Professional developments/ethics/values/welfare trainings and workshops,” she added.
She said the welfare Hub will have a stationed office which will operate within the official opening hours and the members of the public can access their services through appointments and dropping sessions.
“Services will be easily accessed and designed in a simple format to meet individual needs. Our services will be delivered through individuals and diverse institutions and communities such as schools, market places, groups and civil institution,” she said.
She said every department of the organisation will explore individual and community needs to work and raise achievements through preventative approach, early intervention, advocacy, social enterprise, mediation, mentoring, and apprenticeship and through practical and emotional support to reach full potentials.
Mrs Cham who is a Social worker by profession said: “It is very evident that the government cannot do it all for its citizens, therefore amongst the aim of this organisation is to approach different ministries and stakeholders pertaining to each developmental needs.”
“Partnership will be sought and encouraged throughout to enable the organisation to meet needs, that are beyond the organisation parameter, help and support will be seek from external agencies that have the resources and the knowhow,” she said.
She said in the Gambia the gap between social welfare and the public is wide and it is putting welfare/wellbeing of the population at risk, “There is a need of a robust and functional social welfare service to compliment/work in partnership with the Health and Social Welfare Department.”
The population’s attitude towards managing one’s wellbeing, she added, needs to be looked at holistically, “Preventative work is one among many approaches to ensure healthy and productive population to minimise conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression among many conditions which may affects individual productivity in the society.”
“The youths of The Gambia needs to be engaged and encouraged to participate in all levels of nation building which could not be possible without the right knowledge/skill and approach,” she added.
The Gambia Welfare Hub, she said, will set up a training centre where youths will be trained and equipped with the right skills for employability and have the ability to explore their natural environment for opportunities.
“The programmes/trainings will be Youth led from preparation, planning to implementation. The programmes will be easy to navigate and tailored to individual needs and ability,” she stressed.
The Welfare Hub, she added, has the passion to deliver more robust social welfare services to Gambian societies with a clear path underpin by holistic and person centre approach to needs.
“We are also determined to add values on functional approaches to create more coherence services in social welfare care provisions and to develop a multi-agencies working together in the sector,” she said.
She continued: “It is evident that social welfare services are not easily accessible by the people who may be in need. The lack of information about services available at health and social welfare also create a barrier and lack of insufficient capacity and provisions.”
“Therefore, the way forward is to create an enabling environment and develop partnership between the government and the private sector to enhance the services while maintaining autonomy. By providing functional and accessible services to people in need of social care we will encourage people to be in charge of their health and wellbeing,” she said.
She said: “The Gambia Welfare Hub and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare envisage the same values, visions and obligations to ensure that the Gambia population has more informed knowledge of health and social wellbeing to take ownership.”
The Gambia Welfare Hub, she said, envisages that a robust welfare service can add values on people live and encourage more participation and increase productivity in the society, “Understanding one’s wellbeing in a holistic form is paramount.”
The welfare hub, Mrs Cham added would be raising awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing, develop activity, services and implementation, mobilize funds, advocacy, information sharing; Education and Communication strategy development, negotiate and lobby for policy development and social welfare legislation to enhance services which will be align with human right principles and core values.
She continued: “To recruit and facilitate right skills and professional training for all staffs. Welfare Hub – The Gambia, like the other health and social welfare sectors in the Gambia are all working towards a common goal to enhance and encourage individuals to be more involved in preventative work, support to provide guideline to be provided for one to live an ordinary life.”
“Policies and good practice will be developed to integrate services in sectors such as education, youth unemployment and all public and voluntary sectors to have vibrant and functional services,” she said.
She said the hub will also provide clarity and consistency by promoting a shared view of quality, “We will listen to, involve, co-produce and act on the views of citizens, people who use services, and their families and carers.”
“We will promote people’s human rights and their rights to equality with others.
Support and encourage improvement. We will listen to the views of project workers/stakeholders to understand how we can better support the services, both individual and collective standard,” she explained.
She added: “We will use our local and international community to enhance the services and management intelligence to highlight and act on emerging problems and to guide and share best practice.
We will recognise the role of the voluntary sector in building community capacity and capability.”