Mon | Jul 6, 2020

Julian Robinson Seeks Solutions for Homeless Gay Youth in New Kingston

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 12:00 AM
David Fitton (right), British high commissioner to Jamaica, looks at the Peace Management Initiative (PMI) Report on Homeless Youth with Julian Robinson (left), member of parliament for South East St Andrew; Julia Sutherland, deputy British high commissioner, and Damian Hutchinson, executive director of the PMI, at the high commission's presentation of the report at the British High Commission in New Kingston.

Member of parliament for South East St Andrew, Julian Robinson, has, through his role as a member of the board of the Peace Management Initiative (PMI), moved to provide intervention for a group of high-risk homeless youth who were accused of carrying out robberies and incidents of public disorder in the New Kingston environs.

The nature and outcomes of those interventions have been chronicled in a report released in collaboration with the British High Commission.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Robinson noted that he has been working with a number of partners to address the issues facing the group.


A different approach


"Over the past three years, we have grappled with the issue of a group of homeless young gay men who have taken residence in particular areas throughout the constituency ... but the reason I got to the point where I felt there had to be a different type of intervention is because the definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly expecting a different result," he said.

Robinson indicated that he approached the PMI to address the issues facing the group given that efforts to remove them from the Shoemaker Gully have produced little result because they merely relocate to other areas in his constituency.

"I felt it was important to have a formal intervention and to document some of the challenges, we know the challenges anecdotally but we have not had the kind of intervention that the PMI has formally done," he said.

While indicating that the intervention has gone well, Robinson said it has not yet solved the problem.

"We need continuous interventions for this group because it is a unique group. There are a number of unique characteristics of this group which require unique intervention beyond the typical homeless population and even beyond what is done for the LGBT population," he added.

Robinson outlined that the issue of shelter remains a challenge that he intends to tackle.

Human-rights lobbyist Yvonne McCalla Sobers, who was also present at the launch of the report, indicated that plans exist to build a shelter, to be called the Larry Chang Centre, but that land needs to be provided to begin the construction.

Robinson said that the report is intended to shed light on the issues facing the group and to seek solutions.

"This, I hope, will be the beginning of a broader dialogue on this issue where we can bring in other stakeholders to the table so that we can find a lasting solution," he said.