The University of Guyana (UG) is providing psychosocial and other support to students, staff, alumni and pensioners through its ‘UG Cares’ initiative.
One such plan is the provision of care packages for persons who may be vulnerable and in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Philanthropy, Alumni and Civic Engagement (PACE), Professor Paloma Mohamed explained that the initiative was formed after several staff and students shared that they needed help.
A 5000-respondent survey was conducted to ascertain the level of support needed and the University decided to extend its reach to alumni and pensioners.
Priority will be given to students, alumni and staff who are unemployed, in urgent need and those who are employed but not earning now.
The University is providing aid in four main categories, namely, masks and other safety supplies, abuse and crisis support, cleaning and hygiene supplies and foodstuff and other nutritional supplies.
Also, focus will be placed on students and alumni who are on the forefront, supporting the national COVID-19 efforts.
“A number of our alumni are on the frontlines and we wanted to make sure that if there were doctors, nurses [etc.] if they were experiencing any kind of problem that we can help,” Professor Mohamed explained.
Once eligible for a care package, the applicant will be required to share their address and name so they can be easily accessed. UG is working with several supermarkets to enlist a credit arrangement.
“We will dispatch to you, a coupon code that is linked to your information and that coupon is sent via SMS. You can then show that code to that supermarket and you get a prepackaged set of items,” Norwell Hinds, Technical Officer – Civic Engagement, Office of DVC-PACE explained.
Leann Kendall and Debbie Hopkinson, lecturers of Social Work and Psychology explained that the operationalisation of this activity is a means for their students to do their end of semester impact assessment in the absence of final examinations.
Other measures to support students, staff and the wider population include psychosocial support through several hotline numbers, community-based communications to improve awareness and understanding of the virus and educational support for children living in care facilities run by the Ministry of Social Protection.
Hinds noted that UG is inviting students and staff who are interested in being a part of the UG Cares system to register their interest at tinyurl.com/ug-cares. (DPI)