Homeless shelter now a 24-hour facility

Barbados is closer to reducing its homeless population says President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH), Kemar Saffrey.

However, more will have to be done to implement a policy to ensure more homeless people are encouraged to leave the streets.

“The demand for this organisation and its services is still out there. The increase in homelessness is more evident than ever. However, Barbados is moving in the right direction towards helping to eradicate homelessness,” Saffrey said.

He made those comments on Wednesday at the BAEH’s office at Spry Street Bridgetown, where he said their shelter was now officially a 24-hour facility.

During the conference, he was supported by client relations manager Rica Edey, nurse Cheryl Blackman and social worker Natalie Murray.

Saffrey explained that in addition to housing the individuals, they also offered anger management programmes, counselling services, budgeting and other rehabilitative services at the 90-bed facility to help the clients get back on their feet.

He noted that they would continue to work with the Ministry of People Empowerment to develop a policy that would ensure unwilling people were required to access the services provided by the state of the alliance.

“We are working extensively with the Ministry of People Empowerment to look at policy that seeks to work with people to get them off the street. You will still see people on the street, or people at the Treasury [Building] and that is because oftentimes people don’t want to follow the rules.

“Often people don’t want to give up their way of doing things and that is where the policy becomes important. Therefore, I think the policy needs to drive that people need to utilise the services before they utilise the streets because it not only creates health issues and a danger for themselves, but for the general public,” Saffrey added.

The shelter has now moved from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. to accommodate more people, especially mothers and their children.

“There are some cases where women and children are here and the children have to go to school from here. There are cases where the men want to be in rehabilitative programmes to get them back into mainstream society,” he said.

To do so, BAEH had to renovate some of the spaces in the building and hire more staff.  (TG)

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