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Plan to introduce ‘neighbourhood social workers’

Labour Minister Zeta Emilianidou

A NEW institution, that of the neighbourhood social worker, is to be introduced next year for immediate response and aid to those in need, Labour Minister, Zeta Emilianidou, said on Friday.

The move is part of the restructuring of the state social welfare services.

According to the minister, the new programme will be along the same lines as that of neighbourhood watch currently being implemented which is a cooperation between civil society and the police, whereby local residents observe and inform police of unusual, suspicious movements or even criminal acts in the neighbourhood.

The labour ministry is in cooperation with the justice ministry to see how the neighbourhood watch programme is structured.

The neighbourhood social worker programme will be implemented in cooperation with local authorities and the civil society, who will act as neighbourhood watch but will inform authorities of persons in need.

On whether this would be invasion of privacy, the minister said that social workers would not force themselves into people’s homes.

“We would like, if someone faces a problem, to be informed by the civil society, to have immediate information for persons in need,” Emilianidou told the Cyprus Mail.

The minister referred to the new programme on several occasions. She told MPs last year that the aim was to separate geographic areas to enable each social worker, in cooperation with local authorities, to locate any person who needs support and to provide them with assistance.

Following a cabinet meeting last March, she said that there should be more synergies between the local government and civil society so that the state ccoul adequately tackle social problems.

The new programme is expected to be implemented at the beginning of next year, Emilianidou said.


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