Linda Brown in tears at Social Services on Baillou Hill Road as she speaks with The Tribune yesterday. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff
By EARYEL BOWLEG
FOR the past four weeks, senior citizen Linda Brown has been unsuccessful in trying to receive assistance at the Department of Social Services.
She went to the department around 9am yesterday for help, only to be left waiting for nearly three hours, she said, as pain caused by a pinched nerve added to her agony.
Visibly in distress, the 64-year-old came out of the department’s office on Blue Hill Road with tears in her eyes, shouting in frustration.
“(I came) for food stamps and I ain’t get it yet,” she said. “I still out here waiting… Keep telling me go sit down. Go, come back; go, come back. Four weeks. Four weeks I been running behind for this.
“At the age of 64, what I doing out here in this corona thing….Why should I be out here to catch this corona? I use work for government... I can’t work… I fall down on the job (in) 2014. Only $500 I get from National Insurance and getting a hundred something from the treasury, that’s all I getting. That can’t cover nothing (sic).”
She said officials at the department have asked her for a letter from the National Insurance Board detailing her pension benefits.
She told this newspaper she has car payments and needs help with her electricity bill. Living in a government unit on Windsor Lane, Ms Brown said she has told her area representative to check on the other elderly people residing in the unit.
While there was not a long line at the department’s Blue Hill Road location when The Tribune arrived yesterday, some people waiting on assistance said they had been there since early morning.
About 16 people were sitting outside the building.
One person said people were instructed to write down their names and department officials would call them back.
A sign posted outside advised all those from tourism-related industries to apply for assistance via the department’s online portal. The sign stated those individuals would be contacted by a representative once the application had been processed.
Debra Rolle has been unemployed since March 28. She was working at Pro-line Underground on Carmichael Road.
She came to the Department of Social Services for food assistance.
“I mean the challenge is food because you’re not getting any income coming in,” she said of her needs.
“... They gonna help me with the rent also. So, they tell me come in the morning, early in the morning for rent assistance.”
She said she wished the process for applying for help was easier given the circumstances.
“They just need to make things more easier because it is a pandemic,” she added. “Make it more easier and don’t make it so difficult. That’s the only thing I could say but other than that I can’t expect nothing much because it is a help. They only helping. They just doing what they could do.”
Jacob Paul, a hurricane survivor from Abaco, said he arrived at the agency at 5.30am. He was also seeking food assistance or any help he could get, he said.
He said he is getting by with the “little” he has on his bank account.
He said the department has already helped him in the past.
“Twice I came here… They helped with appliances and yeah, just basically food assistance... Social Services been real good to me, I must say,” he said.