Grants for protective items provided

February 11, 2020

The Social Welfare Department today said it has provided two rounds of grants for day and residential service units to procure sanitary and personal protective items and is considering funding to address manpower shortages.


The department made the statement in response to views expressed by welfare sector members on arrangements for welfare services subsidised by the department concerning the latest novel coronavirus developments.


The statement said while ensuring essential and urgent services are maintained, the department has occasionally adjusted the scale of operation of subsidised welfare facilities by reducing or suspending certain services to lower the risk of infection arising from social gatherings.


In the light of developments, the department explained that it issued press releases to announce special arrangements for subsidised welfare services including suspension or limited services for certain centres and suspension of groups and programmes.


Closures of more day centre facilities were also announced in the press release issued on February 7.


The department noted that it has kept non-governmental organisations and service units concerned informed of the arrangements.


It will continue to announce service arrangement changes in the light of the latest developments, the statement added.


The department said it understands the difficulties faced by the welfare sector and has been closely monitoring subsidised welfare services’ operation.


It pointed out that alternative means of providing services, such as drop-in boxes, audio or video calls, have been adopted to replace face-to-face contacts wherever possible, adding that many non-governmental organisations are adopting similar approaches.


The department will exercise flexibility on individual service units’ attainment of service requirements under relevant Funding & Service Agreements.


On the provision of resources, the department provided two tranches of grants in late January and yesterday for day and residential service units to procure sanitary and personal protective items.


Noting that some residential homes and home-based service units face manpower difficulties due to quarantine arrangements required for some of their staff, the department is considering funding to hire relief workers or pay overtime allowances.


The department explained that the Government and different quarters in the community are procuring from different sources and producing locally to increase supply of sanitary and personal protective items.


The department also helps donors to distribute donations in accordance with their wishes.


It thanked all welfare sector colleagues for holding the fort during this very difficult time, adding it will continue to provide support in different ways to the best of its abilities.

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