Fletcher’s Land Community Benefits From Social Intervention Programme


The Fletcher’s Land Community in downtown Kingston has begun to benefit from an injection of approximately $10 million, which will be allocated over the next three years, under the Citizens Security and Justice Programme (CSJP).
The programme which is spearheaded by the Ministry of National Security, is funded jointly by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Government of Jamaica.
An important aspect of this social intervention is the establishment, since October 2003, of a pop band, as part of the Fletcher’s Land Community Cohesion Project.
Manager of the CSJP, Simeon Robinson, told JIS News, that Fletcher’s Land was one of 15 communities in the Kingston Metropolitan Area and St. Catherine, targeted for special intervention, to help reduce the levels of crime and violence.
The decision to create a band came as a result of consultations with residents. “At first it really was not part of the menu of things that we had thought of, but when we examined the dynamics of it, we were. convinced that it was the type of intervention, that has the potential to deliver the results that we’re looking for – that is engaging people in the community in a socially acceptable set of behaviours, and therefore leading to some reduction in the levels of crime that the community has been experiencing,” Mr. Robinson explained.
He said sociologists and development specialists went into Fletcher’s Land to have dialogue with the community, explaining the objectives of the programme, as well as hearing their views. He added that the Social Development Commission (SDC) works closely with the Ministry of National Security in this programme.
The pop band is appropriately named Cohesion, and members are being coached by world-renowned musician of the highly successful ‘Third World’ band, Ibo Cooper. Mr. Cooper, who is a tutor at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, said working with members of this community, has been a very positive experience.
“They are willing to practice up to 1:00 a.m. and 2:00 a.m.,” he said, while praising them for their discipline. Mr. Cooper said the participants showed a clear “sense of wanting to succeed”. And, while others would have misgivings about being in that community until the wee hours, he has found them to be very respectful.
Mr. Cooper said the project initially started without instruments when the members were taught the theory of music. He has also been assisting with voice training and is now tutoring them in the acoustic guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums.
Cohesion features members ranging from teenagers to persons in their 40s. Interestingly, he noted that of the group of 10 now under direct tutelage, only one is a woman.
Mr. Cooper said the playing of instruments has been a tremendous boost to participants, aiding in their self-esteem, skill levels and constructive use of time.
Member of Parliament for West Kingston, Edward Seaga, has been extremely supportive of the project, from its very conception. He explained to JIS News that he played a pivotal role in the acceptance of the proposal to form a band for the community, and pointed to other examples in West Kingston, which had been very successful.
These include the Vikings, formed in 1960s, and eventually became known as the Techniques – who were so successful, that they went to London, to capitalize on their popularity. He also cited ‘We the People’ band from Tivoli Gardens, which was established in the 1970s and enjoys popularity to this day.
Mr. Seaga, explained that the concept of the band in Fletcher’s Land, has caught on so well, that the IDB “is now willing to finance a 16-piece orchestra.with wind instruments, violins and brass and rhythm and all the rest of it, the whole works, and that is going to be for the Tivoli Gardens area, so we’re working on that right now.”
The Member of Parliament, who has over the years taken a very active interest in Jamaican culture and specifically its music, in assessing the project’s impact said, “there is no question in my mind, when the band practices – you should see [all] the young children, the young people that come around – that this is one of the best ways to pull young people off the streets, and to give them something that they can consolidate around and a source of pride in their community.”
The other communities earmarked for attention under the Community Action Component of the Citizens Security and Justice Programme: are Grants Pen, August Town, Drewsland, Tower Hill, Waterhouse, Trench Town, Denham Town, Hannah Town, Rockfort, Mountain View Avenue, South Side, Tel-Aviv, Allman Town, Kencot, sections of Portmore and sections of Cassia Park.

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