Bureau of Gender Affairs assists men, women in crisis
Principal Director in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Sharon Coburn Robinson.

HELP is available from various State and private-sector entities for persons in distressful situations, says Principal Director in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Sharon Coburn Robinson.

Coburn Robinson said that through the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA), the Government operates a support system that was established in 2008 from a telethon and is supported by various individuals and organisations, to assist persons in crisis.

"There is hope, and there is always another side that is better than what you would contemplate, in terms of ending your life, and there are support services that are there to assist you," Coburn Robinson said.

Adding that the bureau also assists persons through referrals, she said the agency offers a "confidential space" where individuals can get the support by reaching the agency's counsellors through the telephone by calling 876-553-0372, 876-236-0387 (for women), and (for men) 876-553-0387, as well as their toll-free number, 1-888-NO-ABUSE.

"We always have a trained counsellor to provide the support that is required, and we have a small window where we can provide financial support to persons," she said, noting that on a wider scale, they support persons to get into business but they have to submit proposals.

Coburn Robinson said they seek support from partners to deal with emergency issues, "because we recognise that financial need is a huge one, and a lot of times persons feel powerless when they are unable to provide for themselves and their families". She pointed out that through the bureau's community liaison unit, trained counsellors are available to work through problems with affected individuals, who can walk into their office and discuss the issues or request Zoom meetings where their faces will not be shown.

Coburn Robinson, who is in charge of the Gender Division at the ministry, said that scores of persons have been saved from harming themselves after interventions from trained professionals, such as pastors and counsellors.

The three main functions of the bureau are research and policy development, public education and training, and project planning and monitoring.

The agency's efforts are geared at ensuring a more inclusive approach to combatting violence, advancing gender equality, and promoting a "gender sensitive approach" to achieving balanced economic growth as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

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