Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Wortley Home Rebuilding Fund slow to grow

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
An artist's rendering of the proposed Wortley Home.
The Wortley Home after the fire.
Firefighters carrying out cooling-down operations at the Wortley Home for Girls along Constant Spring Road in St Andrew in June.

Though the Wortley Home Rebuilding Fund stands at a mere $2 million, to meet a more than $40-million target, the Right Reverend Dr Robert Thompson and other members of management are determined to pool the necessary resources to restore the place of safety for some 19 girls who were left without a home in June.

The near century-old building, which housed the girls at the Wortley Home at 193 Constant Spring Road in St Andrew, was destroyed by fire.

Four dorms at the facility for girls, which was founded in 1918, were destroyed after fire engulfed a large section of the 97-year-old building.

Thompson, the Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, told The Gleaner that the home created a wholesome environment for girls, an element that is critical to personal development.

"Not only has the fire resulted in physical dislocation and emotional disturbance, but the Wortley Home in our estimation, and I believe in the estimation of the Child Development Agency, provides a quality of care for these girls which goes far beyond providing physical accommodation," he said.

"The environment itself was a home. The house mother lived on one floor and the assistant mother on the ground floor, and the close relationship that evolved really helped to create a holistic and friendly environment for the girls," the reverend said.

He also noted that the girls, who are now at the SOS Children's Village, Stony Hill, St Andrew, deserve nothing but the best.

"During the summer, I got an email from one of the girls who left 15 years ago to inform me that she has a personal contribution towards the home and her response was a manager's cheque for $100,000. This, to me, shows it is quite obvious that the home has been making an impact," said the Anglican bishop.

"Girls who use to occupy this home have also launched a fund to assist with the process and there are persons fully committed to rebuilding," he said.

Thompson added: "These are young people who have been dislocated, disadvantaged. We literally rescued them, moulded them and they are now making the mark responsibly in society. The Church is committed as part of our mission to help to restore lives and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that there is such a need in the country for places like these."

During a press conference earlier this month, Thompson outlined that designs for the new Wortley Home had been submitted by architect Rivi Gardner and, based on those plans, chartered quantity surveyors Berkeley & Spence have estimated the cost of the project at $43.6 million. The project cost does not include professional fees.

The project will involve demolition and clearing of the site, and construction of a split-level building with a covered walkway which will lead to an entry-level lobby. The space on this level will accommodate a 16-bed dormitory and bathroom facilities, as well as two separate bedrooms and sanitary facilities for staff. A sick bay and staff training room are among other features at this level.

Thompson said the upper storey would house another 16-bed dormitory, bathrooms and accommodation for a house mother, as well as a homework/study room.

As it seeks to meet the funding requirements, Thompson said the diocese is exploring prospects for securing assistance from local funding agencies.