Wed | Oct 21, 2020

Street People Liberation Foundation steps up to the plate - Fills outreach gap for shelters, homeless

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2020 | 12:06 AMJamila Litchmore/Special Projects and Engagement Editor - -
Food is distributed at the foundation’s most recent feeding initiative in July. The next event will be held in October.
Food is distributed at the foundation’s most recent feeding initiative in July. The next event will be held in October.
Care packages, containing snacks and hygiene products, are prepared for homeless and shelter residents by Street People Liberation volunteers.
Care packages, containing snacks and hygiene products, are prepared for homeless and shelter residents by Street People Liberation volunteers.
AT TOP: Founder and CEO of the Street People Liberation Foundation Ashli-Ann Broughton-Jackson.
AT TOP: Founder and CEO of the Street People Liberation Foundation Ashli-Ann Broughton-Jackson.
Ashli-Ann Broughton-Jackson said the organisation has increased its intiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ashli-Ann Broughton-Jackson said the organisation has increased its intiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Street People Liberation volunteers (from left) Masani Anderson, project coordinator; Shantoya Grant, project manager; and  Jessica Robinson, project coordinator, don masks as they participate in a May outreach event. The size of the team engaged in each p
Street People Liberation volunteers (from left) Masani Anderson, project coordinator; Shantoya Grant, project manager; and Jessica Robinson, project coordinator, don masks as they participate in a May outreach event. The size of the team engaged in each project has been cut significantly to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the homeless. Not only has it disrupted the philanthropic efforts of many charities and individuals, but it has also resulted in the downscaling of outreach and charitable projects.

One organisation responding to these challenges is the Street People Liberation Foundation. The group remains committed to its mandate of supporting the homeless and, in this difficult time, has increased its outreach to provide added assistance despite a decrease in funding.

“COVID really made us stronger. Instead of cancelling our projects for the year, we decided [to] do more,” Ashli-Ann Broughton-Jackson, founder of Street People Liberation, told The Gleaner, noting that the group has already completed four of seven projects for 2020.

Though their funding has been hit, they are turning to the diaspora and tried-and-true fundraising methods and have held three feeding initiatives in April, May, and July, following Jamaica’s first recorded case of COVID-19 in March. They targeted 100 individuals for each event and have provided additional services and support, including haircuts for the men at the Refuge of Hope shelter and monthly care packages containing hygiene products and snacks for shelter residents and the homeless in downtown Montego Bay.

They’ve also changed how they give back to protect members of the organisation and their beneficiaries. Outreach is limited to three members of the executive at a time. The wearing of masks is mandatory and the sanitisation process adhered to at all times.

“We also distribute masks and meals at the same time for the homeless,” said Broughton-Jackson, who is a student at the Caribbean Maritime University, where she is studying logistics and supply chain management.

To date, they have delivered more than 500 COVID-19 safety essentials, namely hand sanitisers and fabric and disposable masks.

MONTEGO BAY FEEDING

On October 18, they aim to have their most dynamic feeding yet. The outreach project will take place in Kingston and Montego Bay simultaneously and will target 500 for the day in the two cities through Refuge of Hope and the Open Arms Drop-In Centre.

“Annually, we always have [a] Heroes Day feeding. In light of COVID-19, there has really been a halt in donations for most charities. We want to bring smiles [while] abiding by the government protocols,” the organisation’s CEO said.

The group has partnered with non-profit Every Mikkle Foundation and the National Youth Parliamentar of Jamaica to execute the ambitious project.

Street People Liberation’s ongoing COVID-19 social-media drive has been integral in generating donations. The current drive is targeting donations for the October 18 project and includes items such as toothbrushes and hand sanitisers.

Broughton-Jackson co-founded the Street People Liberation Foundation in March 2014 with Kyle Jackson while a student at Montego Bay’s Anchovy High. A fifth-form student at the time completing her Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate examinations, the then 17-year-old said she simply wanted to do something “meaningful”, having seen her mother consistently feed the homeless and help others.

The organisation started small with only 10 members. Meals for feedings were prepared by Broughton-Jackson and her mother and purchases made through donations the group would receive locally and from overseas.

Today, it boasts more than 170 members islandwide with a large contingent in Montego Bay, where it all began six years ago, and has been nominated for a 2020 Prime Minister’s National Youth Award for nation-building.

What is next for the foundation? Reaching even more people tops the list.

“The aim is to end the year by reaching at least 3,000 homeless persons and shelter residents. So far, we are at 1,623 persons,” shared an enthusiastic Broughton-Jackson.

To learn more about the Street People Liberation Foundation, visit streetpeopleliberation.com or follow @streetpeopleliberation on Facebook and Instagram. You may also call 876-296-4002 or 876-465-7689 or send an email to streetpeopleliberation@hotmail.com. Have a good story you’d like to share? Email us at goodheart@gleanerjm.com.

jamila.litchmore@gleanerjm.com

How to donate to the Street People Liberation donation drive:

- Make a deposit to Street People Liberation Foundation Limited at Scotiabank, Fairview, Montego Bay, account number 845257.

- Drop off your donations at the Refuge of Hope homeless shelter in Montego Bay or the Open Arms Drop-In Centre in Kingston.