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Invest in the grass roots

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There have recently been dire warnings about a disintegration of the Island’s social fabric. This newspaper has this week carried stories about an increasing number of debt cases coming before the civil courts, as well as a rise in the number of women coming before the courts for serious offences, such as violence.

It seems inevitable that some of the next Budget will be about austerity — the national debt is too large and Government revenue is falling. It is hard to see how cuts cannot be made. It is also hard to see where the job creators are coming from at the moment.

As a result, there will be even more strain on our social fabric, even more strain on organisations such as the police, charities and churches to pick up the pieces.

As this paper noted this week in an editorial on the camaraderie shown by athletes during International Race Weekend, sport is a great leveller of races, sexes and creeds — golfers don’t go into a game judging an opponent by their colour: they ask their opponents what their handicap is.

This newspaper is hearing rumours that one of the busiest Government departments is going to be Wayne Scott in the Ministry of Community and Cultural Development. If that is the case he must, somehow, be given a matching budget — but the money must also be spent wisely and that means looking at supporting the grass roots.

The days of largesse and multimillion dollar grants to our cricket and football teams are over. The threats to our social fabric dictate that the investment must be bottom up, not top down.

Targets and benchmarks must be established, sports groups and community groups that reach out and have the ability to engage young people must be identified and nurtured. Where there are gaps, groups must be encouraged that offer something that is relevant to the people in their community.

The key is engagement and relevance. Without those two, no organisation will prosper and good intentions will be just that. Investment in this area is not a long-term solution — that comes with job and wealth creation, but that could be a long time coming.

Ÿ What do you think? Send your opinions to acting Editor Jeremy Deacon. Email jdeacon@royalgazette.bm — they may be published.

Anonymous Letters

This newspaper recently asked whether it should stop the practice of publishing anonymous letters. The result, according to feedback on our Facebook page and a poll on our website was overwhelmingly in favour of keeping anonymity. So be it.

Wayne Scott
Wayne Scott being sworn in as a Minister by Governor George Fergusson last month.
Wayne Scott ¬

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Published January 23, 2013 at 8:52 am (Updated January 23, 2013 at 8:51 am)

Invest in the grass roots

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