- Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), Baroness Sandip Verma, is hailing the work of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) in transforming the lives of young people residing in at-risk communities in Jamaica.
- Speaking to JIS News after a tour of two CSJP project sites in Kingston on Tuesday (April 4), she said it was inspiring to “hear the voices of the young people” and also to see how the intervention has changed their lives.
- The UK Government, through DFID, provides funding support to the Government of Jamaica to undertake the CSJP in 50 inner-city communities across eight parishes, namely Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Westmoreland, St. James, St. Ann and St. Mary.
Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the United Kingdom’s (UK) Department for International Development (DFID), Baroness Sandip Verma, is hailing the work of the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) in transforming the lives of young people residing in at-risk communities in Jamaica.
Speaking to JIS News after a tour of two CSJP project sites in Kingston on Tuesday (April 4), she said it was inspiring to “hear the voices of the young people” and also to see how the intervention has changed their lives.
“I think this is the strength of this programme,” she said.
“I am very pleased that I could come here and see what the support of the UK Government and other partners is doing…and the wonderful work that is taking place on the ground,” she added.
Baroness Verma visited the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) Engineer Regiment at Up Park Camp and the Waterhouse Community Centre, where young people from targeted CSJP communities are engaged in on-the-job and in-class training.
The UK Government, through DFID, provides funding support to the Government of Jamaica to undertake the CSJP in 50 inner-city communities across eight parishes, namely Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Westmoreland, St. James, St. Ann and St. Mary.
The programme seeks to build community safety and security through crime reduction and social intervention initiatives. The areas of focus are: provision of opportunities for employment and further education through remedial studies, life skills, and technical skills development; culture change for peaceful coexistence, including non-violent conflict resolution; and community and alternative justice services.
Baroness Verma, in expressing delight at the successes under the programme, cited testimony from members of the Men with a Message group, detailing how the intervention transformed them and gave them the tools to steer young people from criminal activity.
Men With A Message is an advocacy group sponsored by the CSJP, which consists of former gang members and ex-prisoners, who have turned their lives around and are now delivering motivational messages in schools, on street corners and via the media.
The CSJP, which began in 2001, is in its final phase, and is scheduled to end in 2019.
Baroness Verma gave the UK Government’s commitment to supporting programmes in Jamaica that help to improve lives.
“The UK is a great friend and supporter of the Jamaican Government and will always be here to support and help programmes such as this, because we think they are phenomenal and great results are shown,” she told JIS News.
Over 100 CSJP interns are engaged for five to six days per week in the construction of a training facility at Up Park Camp.
The interns, who benefitted from skills training at the HEART/Trust NTA’s Vocational Training Development Institute (VTDI), are gaining experience and competence in their skill areas, while learning new techniques, thereby making them more employable.
The skills are auto mechanics, furniture making, air condition and refrigeration repairs, carpentry, plumbing, electrical installation and masonry.
The training is part of an ongoing partnership between the JDF and CSJP aimed at improving the employability and social skills of CSJP participants, as well as the relationship between young men and the security forces.
Interns from the JDF programme have gained employment with the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), at the recently opened Courtyard Marriott hotel in New Kingston, and some have been recruited as privates in the JDF.
Commanding Officer, 1 Engineer Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Rickman, has recommended that the partnership be continued and expanded to reach more young people.
Orville Allen, who is a beneficiary of the CSJP-JDF partnership, said with the skills training has prepared him for the job market.
“I did not expect to learn four different trades. I have been here over a year now with a few months left. I am going out (in the job market) soon and I am ready. I have learned how to be disciplined and I have made a lot of friends here,” he told JIS News.
Another beneficiary, Ramona Porter, who was appointed intern supervisor based on her high level of performance and discipline, told JIS News that persons in her community now “look up to me.”
She noted that she has also acquired new skills.
“I came here as an electrician and now I can do masonry and steel fixing; name it and I can do it. On this programme they teach you new skills on weekends, free of cost and soon we will learn about (reading) a blueprint and tile laying. The best part is that we get a certificate at the end of these courses. That enhances our abilities and proves what we have been exposed to and can do,” she pointed out.
The programmes in Waterhouse are conducted at the recently commissioned community centre, which was part funded by the CSJP.
Activities include community, parenting and youth club meetings as well as skills training through HEART/Trust NTA and other initiatives through the American Friends of Jamaica.
Other funding partners for the CSJP are the Inter-American Development Bank, and Global Affairs Canada, formerly Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) of Canada.