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  • The increased effort forms part of the Government’s thrust in securing the wellbeing of the homeless
  • Other plans include providing access to transitional and permanent housing

The Board of Supervision (BOS), an agency of the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, has boosted its disaster preparedness plans, aimed at improving the care and protection of the nation’s homeless for the hurricane season.

Homelessness Co-ordinator at the BOS, Damion Campbell, tells JIS News that the increased effort forms part of the Government’s thrust in securing the wellbeing of the homeless, through its many intervention programmes.

The measures include: a review of the National Disaster Action Plan, which outlines the roles and responsibilities that the various stakeholders must play at the parish level, which takes into consideration the provision of food, shelter and medical care.

In addition, a series of workshops and training exercises are being conducted in an effort to sensitize persons about how to effectively deal with the homeless, in case of a natural disaster.

“In terms of feedback from the various training exercises that were conducted, we have discovered that on a regional basis, individuals are better aware of the roles that they have to play, as it relates to the different case that exists, in dealing with street persons,” the Co-ordinator tells JIS News.

Other plans include providing access to transitional and permanent housing, developing public awareness programmes, implementing additional projects at the parish level, and building and strengthening partnerships among diverse stakeholders.

“We have to play our part, because homeless persons are in need of care and protection, whether or not there is a hurricane. Our aim is to make persons aware of the services that currently exist, so that assistance can be acquired from the various organisations islandwide,” he said.

Mr. Campbell informs JIS News that currently there are six homeless shelters in operation islandwide, where persons can go in case of an emergency.

These are the Marie Atkins Night Shelter in Kingston; Portland Rehabilitation Centre and Open Arms Drop-In Centre, Portland; Refuge of Hope in St. James; Westmoreland Association for Street People (WASP) in Savanna-la-mar; and the Ebenezer Home in Manchester.

He points out that information on shelters for the homeless can be accessed through the various parish council offices, and poor relief departments islandwide.

Mr. Campbell adds that while funding remains a challenge to effectively provide for this sector of society, the BOS remains committed to safeguarding the welfare of the nation’s homeless, in collaboration with its stakeholders.

He emphasizes that the Government alone cannot do it, and is encouraging private sector companies and individuals to get on board.

Some of the stakeholders are: Ministry of Health (MOH), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Food for the Poor, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Community Mental Health Services, Jamaica Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

The Board of Supervision is a statutory body that was established under the Poor Relief Act, to supervise and monitor the delivery of the poor relief service, performed by the Parish Councils and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC)