Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Growth & Jobs | The Source Centres: The heart of the community

Published:Tuesday | January 30, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Governor General Sir Patrick Allen (right) reads the vision board while Earl Jarrett, chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group looks on. Occasion was the official opening of The Source Savanna-la-Mar in 2012.
Earl Jarrett (second left), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group views photos with Governor General Sir Patrick Allen that were mounted on the wall of The Source Savanna-la-Mar, at the opening ceremony in Westmoreland in 2012.
In this 2011 photo, Earl Jarrett (left), chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group greets volunteers at the opening ceremony of The Source, Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth.

The call for social-intervention programmes to stem crime and violence and to reduce poverty in our inner-city communities has become deafening and is viewed by many as the silver bullet that can help to lasso the runaway crime rate.

However, some doubters argue that social interventions are oftentimes unsustainable and therefore make no difference, hence they are simply a waste of resources.

But there is one social-intervention model which during the past decade has emerged and proved to be the exception, said Saffrey Brown, general manager, Jamaica National (JN) Foundation, in her address to the Rotary Club of New Kingston, recently. The Social Enterprise Model was used to establish five Source centres across Jamaica, which are still operative and making a difference.

"The Source was developed in 2007 as an intervention in underserved communities to provide lifestyle changing services," Brown informed, noting that, "we examined how we could use existing community space to create a hub for activities, to influence growth and employment."

She stated that, "the foundation wanted to achieve long-term provision, hence we didn't want to establish something that after three years, when we pull out, that would be the end of it. Therefore, we pursued the social enterprise model - which is basically a business that operates to fulfil a social mission - and the first source was established in August Town in 2007".


... People, planet, profit - sustainable development of community


Saffrey Brown, general manager of the JN Foundation, told members of the Rotary Club of New Kingston recently that sustainable development of community and country would not be achieved if anyone of the "Ps" was missing - people, planet and profit.

She told them that the social enterprise model adopted by JN always takes into account people, planet and profit.

Consequently, The Source in August Town focused on several key priorities. These included ensuring that there were efficient core business services, which included a documentation centre, a media library, and a meeting room, and that those services would generate regular, ongoing income to operate the centres.

"That was the first thing we considered - how we were going to run and sustain Source centres. Because if we could not determine how we were going to operate the centre from the get-go, we wouldn't be doing it," she explained.

Secondly, the JN Foundation sought to partner with community groups to encourage the buy-in of community members and ownership of the centres. "For the past 10 years, since The Source opened in August Town, there has not been one instance of theft or vandalism," she disclosed.




Another key priority area, she noted, was establishing the centre as a place of refuge. "Therefore, the environment was relaxing and aesthetically appealing, with management which generated personality, love and joy," she related.

The Source in August Town celebrated its 10th anniversary in March, last year.

"JN has not had to put any additional funds into that centre during the past seven years. But every year, we measure impact created by the centre," she said. We were integral to the drive for transformation. And as you know, 2016 was the first year in decades when August Town reported no murders, and while we know that we were not directly responsible for that change, we did have a role to play, in that, we provided an intervention which impacted community members," she said.

Helen Ann Brown, senior pastor of the Kairos Group of Churches, which now manages the centre, said in a recent interview "The Source is an indispensable part of August Town."

"It is part of the social economic fabric of our community. People expect it to be there. Therefore, if the centre closed today, residents would feel the impact, and it is now a permanent part of August Town," Pastor Brown stated, noting that it is a proud element of the community.


... Replicating success; driven by women


Following the success of The Source August Town, four other centres were established in: Maverley, St Andrew; Ocho Rios, St Ann; Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth; and Savanna-la-Mar, in Westmoreland.

"Three of these centres opened within six months of each other," said Brown. "Prior to establishing each of them, we conducted intensive community consultations, working closely with key community partners; and implemented some of the most inclusive and welcoming community spaces in Jamaica. In reality, JN embarked on the rollout of a new way of providing community interventions, and they were founded on creativity, inclusion and access," Brown said.

Turning, to the last centre that was established in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, in 2012, Brown said that The Source, Savanna-la-Mar was driven by women who were an average age of 76 and were part of the Y's Mennettes Service Club.

"They are true community champions who have been serving the community needs of Russia, Grotto and Barracks Road for more than 50 years," she pointed out.

Brown also noted the The Source centres not only provided basic services to the community, but also to thousands of persons who accessed training in leather craft, upholstery, toymaking, and technology boot camps for animation and coding. They also sharpened their skills to build greenhouses and implement urban gardening projects. The community members attended iteracy and numeracy classes.

"We were not joking when we said The Source was at the heart of the communities. These Source centres are valid representations of the people-first commitment of the Jamaica National Group to support and grow communities. These centres are part of the social enterprise legacy that JN creates daily," she said.