Manchester stakeholders to engage the youth
With each new year, new plans must be implemented to sustain growth and development and to those which were previously made but fell short, revamping is necessary.
Major stakeholders in the parish are moving along a central theme to provide more opportunities for young people, consistently develop the economy, and to make Manchester a safe place to live, work and do business.
Parish manager of the Social Development Commission (SDC) Beverly Boothe told The Gleaner that all the plans for the 2016 period were executed and the same streak of success should follow in 2017.
"We have some community groups that we call the Community Development Committee. There are 73 of them, but there are some weak ones that we are hoping to strengthen through training.We also want to facilitate more safety and security meetings as the communities are requesting them, along with parenting workshops and workshops to address domestic violence," said Boothe.
She further noted that training will be done with specific persons who can ably assist members of their communities through drug abuse awareness sessions.
"We also have our interagency network, where we have the 22 agencies in the parish involved, and we started a project last year in collaboration with the Mental Health Unit at the Southern Regional Health Authority, where we are trying to expand the hospice near to the hospital to accommodate street people and those with mental health issues. We'll be continuing that in 2017," noted Boothe.
She, however, said the SDC's main aim is to get the local initiatives going in the communities, particularly local economic projects.
"We will be having a series of night fairs. We're hoping to work together with the Christiana business fair (among others). We hope to have a Williamsfield farm fest to expand the economic aspects of our communities," Boothe told The Gleaner.
In an effort to engage the young people, the parish manager said the Commission will be engaging them through a number of sporting activities including, but not limited to netball competitions and track meets.
For chairman of the Parish Development Committee, Anthony Freckleton, the economic development of the parish through skills training and certification of the young people is top priority.
"We would like to see a continuation of the BPO sector in Mandeville that will provide more jobs. The critical issues that we face in the parish regarding skills training and unemployment, we would like to enable as many young people in the parish to acquire skills because without that, it will be very difficult for them to participate in the economic development of the parish," Freckleton told The Gleaner. This he says will be done through a partnership with the HEART Trust NTA, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Jamaica Foundation for Lifelong Learning.
Freckleton said for years, there have been talks of a project after bauxite, but hopes a definitive plan will be made as "the mined-out lands represent an opportunity for development and benefits to be utilised".
In his capacity as chair of the South Coast Tourist Board, Freckleton is expecting that tourist visits to the area will improve and boost the economy; considering the number of heritage sites and housing (hotels, guest houses) accommodations that are here.
While the powers that be seek to improve business in the parish, the police are confident that the reduction seen in all major crimes will continue this year.
According to Superintendent Wayne Cameron, there has been a reduction in six out of seven major categories.Murder has seen a reduction from 53 in 2015 to 42 in 2016. Robbery went down by 16 per cent, having recorded 174 cases in 2015 and 158 in 2016.
Cameron said shootings were down by 11 per cent, moving from 41 last year to 30 in 2016. Sixty-five aggravated assault cases were reported in 2015 compared to 51 in 2016.