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Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, has said that Government support agencies must rethink and modify their approach to providing critical social services to inner city communities.
Mr. Golding, who was a guest speaker at the official opening of the newly-refurbished Fletcher’s Land Community Centre in Western Kingston on (Jan. 27), stated that there is a negative perception of inner city communities, which extends to Government agencies. This negative perception, he said, is not helping the desired advancement of the residents.
“There is a mindset, the kind of perception that uptown has of communities like Fletcher’s Land. But is not uptown alone .it is something that is institutionalized even within the Government structure itself,” the Prime Minister argued.
He called on agencies that provide social services, particularly water, to urgently address the needs of inner city communities, in the same manner in which they serve other areas. “You must be seized with that same sense of urgency whether it is Fletcher’s Land or it is Cherry Gardens. It requires a whole new mindset,” Mr. Golding stated.
He noted further that residents of inner city communities must also change their own mindset with a view to creating more harmonious relationships with government support agencies in order to enjoy better social services.
In the meantime, he noted that the Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP), which funded the refurbishing of the Fletcher’s Land Community Centre, is a timely yet urgent response to the need to transform inner city communities.
“This programme is an important response. It’s an important proactive initiative attempting to grab hold of that problem and to turn it around. It represents more than just the hope of Fletcher’s Land, it represents the hope of all Jamaica, Mr. Golding stated.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Minister of National Security, Derrick Smith, said the government is seriously looking at expanding the CSJP as a means to implementing relevant social intervention initiatives in other communities.
According to Mr. Smith, the government will be approaching the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB), which is funding the programme, with a view to extending it after the evaluation process is completed. The programme is slated to end in August 2008.
“I am confident that at the end of the evaluation, we will enter into negotiations with the IDB for a part two of this programme. We have seen what it has done for the young people involved,” Mr. Smith said.
“We have some serious problems with particularly our young men in the inner city communities and when you look at the crime statistics, you see exactly where Jamaica’s problem is. We have to do something about our young people. Social intervention programmes must be the way going forward in dealing with the crime problem in our country,” he added.
Launched in 2001, CSJP is one of the mechanisms through which the government seeks to address some of the increasingly grave social ills being experienced by some residents in inner city communities, by assisting in the reduction of crime and violence generally and continued improvement in the delivery of services by the judicial system.
More than $1 billion has been spent to deliver a range of services in the 15 communities in Kingston and St. Andrew and 10 communities in St. James, in which CSJP exists, including education and mentoring programmes, conflict resolution training, life skills, and parenting education.