The rollover policy
has affected many service organisations whose volunteers often come from the
expatriate segment of the population.
organisations such as HospiceCare, the Cancer Society and the Red Cross have
been approached by many new residents seeking to get involved in the community,
as well as earn credit toward permanent residence in the Cayman Islands.
However, after the
exodus of foreigners following Hurricane Ivan and a controversial rollover
policy implemented in 2004,
agencies have noticed a big difference.
“We witnessed a huge
falloff after Ivan, and with fewer people to pull from and more charities, we
have to be extremely proactive in what we do,” said Jennifer McCarthy of Cayman
HospiceCare. “It certainly is not getting easier.”
She added that the
recent hike in work permit fees also affects the numbers, and fewer renewals
just as harmful to the pool of people available for HospiceCare to call on –
for donations as well as for volunteers.
It costs roughly $1,700
a day to run the Cayman Hospice Care programme.
“All services are free, and we depend solely on
donations, but apart from finances, we are also seeing a decline in the number
of volunteers available to assist with running the operations,” said Mrs.
Her sentiments were echoed by acting operations manager
at the Cancer Society, Teresa Foster.
“We have a broad cross-section of volunteers and usually
things flow quite easily, but things became really evident during this year’s
Stride event, which was definitely more of an effort this time, and we had to
work a little harder than other years,” she said.
Mrs. Foster said the volunteers serving at the Cancer
Society also have to work longer hours. “Our fundraising has stayed on par, but
general donations have definitely taken a hit,” she said.
The Cancer Society no longer receives government grants.
At the Red Cross, Community Services Coordinator Carolina
Ferreira said, “Though we are fortunate to see a continuous flow of volunteers
at the Red Cross, what we have found is that people who have been volunteering
for years have left. Most of the well-trained first-aiders, responders and
individuals from the shelter management team are no longer on Island.”
The Red Cross is the largest volunteer organisation in
the Cayman Islands, Ms Ferreira said,
and it is comprised mostly of expatriates.
“A lot of times people have served with the Red Cross in
their home countries before coming to live in the Cayman Islands,” she said.
“Because of the nature of the work we do, we cannot optimally function without
the necessary manpower. It is not just a matter of finances.”
She added that both the 2007 and 2008 recipients of the
Volunteer of the Year awards have left Grand Cayman. “These are people whose
skill and experience we no longer have. When we retrain, it costs us, and so we
are hit twice as hard. We are neutral and do not enter politically sensitive
discussions. What I can say however, is that the rollover policy has had a
negative affect on us as an organisation.”
organisations served by expatriates report a rise in participation, however.
Carolyn Parker, president of the Humane Society, said the shelter is doing well
with donor support and volunteers, and the organisation is growing.
“We can say that
things are continuing to improve. I can’t say that we have noticed any impact
from the rollover or people leaving,” she said.
Vice Chairman of the
Drama Society Paul De Freitas said it is difficult to monitor the Drama Society
in terms of who was here and who has left because it is supported by actors,
producers and stage persons whom you might not see for quite some time, until there
is something going on that interests them.