Christmas Message from Warrant Officer Ivan O’Neal BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA
SVG Green Party
In this festive period of Christmas and New Year, people look to be with their family whilst at the same time look forward to opportunities in the coming year.
For many families, this year has been pretty tough dealing with the issues of unemployment, poverty and hardship. The cost of living has increased a lot over this year and many households struggle to survive and adequately feed their family members.
In the New Year, they need more and better opportunities to seek prosperity. Families need initiatives in which they receive provisions, livestock or equipment to kick-start a small business and generate income. Support is needed to accelerate people’s journeys out of poverty and hardship.
An approach is needed to significantly reduce generational poverty. Two-generation solutions focused on children and the adults in their lives at the same time can help SVG emerge better and stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic and long-term poverty.
Parents are the most critical factor in a child’s development and well-being. If we want children to be healthy and well-fed, parents need good jobs, access to nutritious foods close to home and mental health support.
If we want children to succeed in school, they have a better shot if their parents also have educational opportunities. Family prosperity means having the right resources as a family to achieve success and continuously see growth.
The hardships and stressors associated with poverty can harm children of any age – but research shows that poverty experienced during early childhood is particularly damaging to a child’s development.
One study found that people who experienced poverty between birth and age 5 completed two fewer years of school, were twice as likely to be arrested (among men), and were nearly three times more likely to be in poor health as adults than peers who lived in moderate-to-upper-income settings.
We’ve seen this illustrated in SVG with too many young men ending up in court and jail.
The same study found that boosting the income of families with young children was associated with better outcomes in adulthood.
Whilst people enjoy the festive period with family, they need more jobs and financial, social and educational opportunities in SVG, so people can properly care for and sustain their family in 2023 and beyond.
Merry Christmas and may God bless us all.