The Family Support Network received its annual seasonal donation from Drakes Traders Ltd, which it typically puts towards an outreach activity that is most in need of funds. This year, the $5000 will be used to provide the counseling that is essential for individuals to move out of the cycle of abuse and on to a trajectory of independence and self sustenance.

Speaking with the management at Drakes Traders, Ms. Jasmin D’Aguiar, Treasurer of the FSN, explained that, while the not-for-profit organization will provide support for individuals and families who are in need, the aim is to provide stepping stones to move out of the harmful situation and into leading a life that is free of abuse and fear.

“There are many reasons why people stay in abusive and unhealthy situations,” said Ms. D’Aguiar. “The majority of people we see are those who may not have independent means of living and who are fearful of what will happen to them financially as well as physically if they break the ties and leave the abusive relationship. It becomes more difficult when children are involved. Once we are able to place the clients in a safe zone, the counseling is essential to provide them with an understanding of their situation. The sessions build confidence and provide the mental and emotional tools to feel strong and empowered enough to break the cycle and plan for the medium and then the long term.We are very grateful to Drakes Traders for their generous gift to our clients!”

Drakes Traders, a home improvement store in Tortola which has been serving the community for over three decades, has always been a supporter of the efforts of the Family Support Network.

“We live in a close knit society and, as a family and as a business, we have always believed in providing a helping hand for those that need it,” said Christian Esser, Managing Director of Drakes Traders. “Over the years we have established a relationship with the FSN where we are always on standby to offer support and are ready to work with them to achieve their long term goals. This annual donation is something that we do with hopes that we are providing some relief during a time when spirits are meant to be lifted with a hope of something brighter for the future.”

This year, the FSN which serves Tortola and the sister islands of Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda and Anegada, will have supported between 250 and 300 households per month. With family sizes ranging from 2 -12 persons, this is a figure of 600 – 700 people who receive assistance from the charitable organization.

“Our pantry costs alone run between $4,000 and $5,000 per month on top of the food donations that we receive from members of the community,” said Ms. D’Aguiar. “This doesn’t take into account the other expenses and costs of running the service that is essential to keeping individuals and families in survival mode. We provide mediation and advocacy support as well as assistance with food staples, emergency temporary shelter and protection from domestic violence and abuse.

“The pandemic saw charitable giving take a knock while at the same time raising the number of people seeking help. Our budget for the coming year is $250,000 – $300,000 and we desperately need funding to keep on doing the work that we do. We are asking for pledges, sponsorships and donations from the community – no matter the amount – and hope that perhaps this year, people may consider the idea of making a donation to the FSN on behalf of their families or perhaps consider donating money on behalf of a friend in lieu of the traditional gift exchange.”

Beneficiaries and donors can respectively register and collect or drop off items at the FSN’s office on Chalwell Street, Road Town Mondays through Fridays with persons asked to contact the office in advance on (284) 5418859 or (284) 542 2085 for an appointment to manage the COVID-19 protocols and ensure the privacy of its clients.  The emergency telephone number is (284) 499 0999.