BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 12th March 2021)-Having been a social services worker for twenty-one out of the forty-three (43) years he has worked as a civil servant, new retiree James ‘Bunny’ Pemberton is encouraging families to “look after your loved ones” so as to add to the outreach by the Ministry of Social Services as well as seeing to it that such loved ones are shown appreciation while alive.

On the day of an exclusive sit-down interview with this reporter conducted on Monday 8th March 2021, Pemberton found convenience in doing so while on an errand in Basseterre to collect some medication for an elderly male resident of his home town Sandy Point whom he has been caring for over the past five years.

“Look after your loved ones; don’t wait on government because government can’t do it alone no matter which government [is] in. Look after your loved ones; don’t wait until they are dead and start to cry. Don’t wait until they have passed away to carry a rose; get the rose to them now that they are alive and let them smell the rose,” when quizzed about giving advice now that he has retired from working at the Department of Community Development and Social Services.

He continued: “I get upset at times. When we get a call and when you do a background check and you see who is the family, it appears that some families would not assist a relative because the person in need doesn’t have it [financially] but if it a family who has it, you see them visiting every minute.”

Commenting on his experience as a social services worker over the years, Pemberton told: “There has been a big improvement over the years but I still think that we can do more because there are a lot of people out there in the communities of St.Kitts who we haven’t reached as far to see as yet because some family members don’t want to come forward. When I say come forward, what I observe is that Kittitians are very proud people and so they don’t want to come forward to receive the help.”

Pemberton went on to say: “I feel good that I have played my part to assist some families because when we started first… the programme was not like this, and sometimes when I speak about how the programme was I get emotional and in some instances when a person dies you hear they were related to honourable this and honourable that [public figures] but when the person was alive, you never know they had that kind of family. Trust me, the programme has come a long way.”

Asked to speak more on the observation made about some people in need not coming forward for assistance, he said: “Well, some of them look at it as political no matter who is the government of the day and so they don’t want to associate themselves with the government of the day but I am appealing that you can go out; forget about politics and if you need the assistance come out.”

“Once it comes from social services, people look at it that it’s welfare,” he added.

Pemberton has also pointed out that some individuals shy away from seeking help, too, because of the small society of the island and so they worry about privacy.

Asked to sum up his 21 years of service, Pemberton stated: “I would say I have done my best or let’s put it this way, I have tried to do my best because it wasn’t always good sometimes I get frustrated a lot and I get emotional. Going forward, I want to see the Ministry reaching out to the needy because there is a lot of needy out there, and when I say needy I mean really needy.”
Pemberton is currently planning to open a soup kitchen called SPFHH (Sandy Point Friends Helping Hands), location in his home town of Sandy Point in an effort to ensure that meals are provided to those in need.

“What inspired me? That’s a very good question. All the way coming up, I didn’t have it [financially] and I know people in the community went out and tried to help me and at my age now I think I can turn it back over to the community because other people in the community also receive help from friends of Sandy Point, and not just Sandy Point but from a wider community,” he told this reporter.

Pemberton informed that he has reached out to the Ministry of Social Services as well as non-governmental organizations, friends from Sandy Point and overseas donors to get onboard.

On Wednesday 3rd March at the Victoria Road Community Center, a retirement ceremony was held in Pemberton’s honour, giving the label of “43 years of what can be described as loyal and meritorious service” according to social media post in highlighting the occasion.