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York contributes to social policy development in St Helena

Posted on 28 January 2013

Two University of York academics are playing a key role in a review of social security reforms introduced in one of Britain's remotest overseas territories.

Jamestown, Saint Helena. Credit: Mejuto via Creative Commons

Professor Jonathan Bradshaw and Professor Roy Sainsbury, of the University’s Social Policy Research Unit (SPRU) have been commissioned by the government of St Helena to contribute to a review of the Island’s 2011 social security reforms. As part of the review Professor Sainsbury will be visiting the Island for two weeks in February.

St Helena is a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic, widely known as the place of exile of Napoleon Bonaparte who was held captive on the Island from 1815 to his death in 1821. Nine miles by five miles with a population of just over 4,000, it is one of the world’s most inaccessible places.

To reach it, Professor Sainsbury is flying to Ascension Island on an RAF transport aircraft followed by a three-day 700-mile voyage to St Helena.

On the island, he will conduct a series of discussions and events with members of the St Helena government, officials from the Health and Social Welfare Directorate, employers’ representatives, and groups of St Helena citizens, who are known as ‘Saints’.  The review is taking place against the backdrop of one of the most far-reaching developments in St Helena’s history, the building of a commercial airport which is due for completion in 2015/16. Further changes to the social security system will, therefore, need to be fitted to a probable large shift in the economic and social life of the islanders.

I think the approach that we have agreed with SHG – drawing on the views and experiences of councillors and officials, and the citizens of St Helena – is absolutely the right one

Professor Roy Sainsbury

Susan O’Bey, Director of Strategic Policy and Planning on St Helena said: “It is important that the social welfare system is reviewed so that we can be sure that what we have in place is efficient and effective and serves the needs of the people of St Helena. I hope that people will come forward and give their thoughts and comments so that they can be taken into account in the review.”

Professor Sainsbury added: “I am very pleased to be contributing to the review of the Social Welfare System on St Helena and looking forward to my first visit to the Island. The demands on the system are certain to change after the completion of the airport so it is vital that it is up to the job.  For this reason, I think the approach that we have agreed with SHG – drawing on the views and experiences of councillors and officials, and the citizens of St Helena – is absolutely the right one. I am sure I am going to be extremely busy during my stay.”

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