The UK-SVG Friendship Trust has teamed up with the St. Vincent Cooperative Bank as its local partner to assure the framework for the disbursement of its EC$ 800,000 La Soufriere Volcanic Eruption Recovery Assistance Programme.
The UK based Trust has engaged the bank due to its long-standing commitment to the country as one of the oldest indigenous banks. The “penny bank” with its strong roots in local communities will act to ensure that all funds spent locally are accounted for and that the programme delivers for its intended beneficiaries.
The UK-SVG friends is comprised of over 7000 donors in the UK. Collectively, they have so far contributed more than £250,000 in a campaign launched on the GoFundMe platform which was supported by the SVG High Commission. The Fund will have three components, (1) A specific sum to be transferred to the Government’s volcanic relief fund (2) A portion to be reserved for assisting persons who were evacuated and are returning home on advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (3) Purchase of items for immediate needs for those in shelters and those staying with families or friends.
According to Chairman of trustees Cenio Lewis, “the funding framework for the programme is to provide for the relief of hardship by persons directly impacted and displaced by the La Soufriere Volcanic eruption particularly those evacuated from the red zones. The Trust is especially concerned about the plight of women, girls and persons living with disabilities and those who are otherwise at high risk.”
Lewis further indicated that “as far as practicable, the Trust intends to directly procure food and personal care items in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to boost the local economy with particular attention to small enterprises. Given the double challenge of dampened economic activity due to the Covid-19 pandemic and now the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano, we wish to do our part to keep the economy afloat as we respond to individuals in most need.”
Executive Director of the St. Vincent Cooperative Bank Mr Albert Porter has welcomed the partnership stating that “this is an interesting time in the country’s history and the bank is pleased to be playing a pivotal role in helping to bring people back on their feet in partnership with the UK-SVG Friendship Trust. The bank stands in solidarity with the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and will help to rebuild the nation in whatever way possible”
Mr. Porter also highlighted that “The St. Vincent co-operative bank is known as the peoples bank because of its good track record of accountability, trust and a people centric focus. It is because of this we can forge these types of partnerships to ensure that those who are most in need can have access to the help they deserve.
The La Soufriere volcano began erupting explosively on April 9, 2021 after months of continued effusive eruptions which began on December 27, 2020. The explosive eruptions have led to the displacement of thousands of people who live near the volcano and have significantly destroyed agriculture and infrastructure, mainly in the northern region of St. Vincent.
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