Educating youth priority for new St James custos
Bishop Conrad Pitkin, the new custos rotulorum for the parish of St James, says his first order of business is to become a driving force behind the education of youngsters, particularly the young men living in inner-city communities in the parish.
Pitkin, who succeeded Ewen Corrodus a month ago as the custos for St James, told The Gleaner yesterday that the large number of at-risk and vulnerable youth in St James is having a detrimental impact on the parish.
According to the new custos, St James's high crime rate, which led to the recent declaration of a state of public emergency in the parish, is a direct result of the under-representation of these inner-city young men. However, he strongly believes that now is the time to refocus on capturing the minds of these youngsters through educational means, which he intends to spearhead.
"St James is a challenge, but I see it more as a diamond in the rough, and there is tremendous potential to turn this parish around by targeting the vast majority of the unskilled and unemployed young people in the various inner-city areas," said Pitkin.
"How can we work together with all the various agencies like the Government, churches, and NGOs to see what we can do? For me, I don't want us to go and just plan some training," continued Pitkin. "I would like to find out from the young people themselves what are the various areas they would like to be trained in and see if my office can facilitate such training for them."
Depending on youth's feedback
Bishop Pitkin argued that too often, organisations believe that they know what is best for youngsters, but he intends to build his educational initiatives on the foundation of these youngsters' feedback.
Additionally, Pitkin, who is the senior pastor at the Faith Temple Assembly of God, in Montego Bay, intends to create a parenting skills workshop, where he hopes that in time, the attitudes and values system will start the process of rebuilding in the troubled homes and bring back some semblance of decency to the communities.
"Our greatest challenges are the young persons between ages 13 and 25. We need to reach out and show them that we can and have an interest in their welfare," said Pitkin. "Plus, the BPO (business process outsourcing) is about to explode, and, are we going to wait until they have to import persons into Montego Bay, or are we going to try and provide the necessary skill sets that will be needed?," Pitkin asked.
"So we have to target them, and I can't think of a better time to do it. I want to be one of those persons upfront working to make it happen," the custos added.