Unattached youth not being impacted
Despite being ranked among the parishes with the highest prevalence of unattached/at risk youths in the island, it would appear that Hanover is getting very little attention in terms of the welfare of the youths, especially those youngsters in poor remote rural communities.
In analysing the situation, social worker, Jannette Burke, noted that poor young persons living outside of the parish capital, Lucea, are particularly affected, as the programmes being offered by the agencies of the Ministry of Youth are not impacting them.
"The National Youth Service and National Centre for Youth Development (NCYD), even though they say they have built a facility (the new Youth Information Centre (YIC) at Watson Taylor Park) for youth empowerment, they are still not reaching the youths that need empowerment, because their main focus is on who is going to come in (office) to them," said Burke.
Burke further emphasised that even if the persons who are not being impacted would like to visit the Lucea facility, in many instances, they are being constrained by economic and social issues.
" ... the persons who really need the help can't find the taxi fare to go to Lucea, much less to go to the facility," said Burke. "Plus, for some, their self esteem is so low, they can't see the need to get up and go do anything more than continue with their generational cycle of poverty. If you do research you will see that this is what is happening in most of the communities."
"There are programmes for Granville (in St James) and those places," said Burke, making reference to the situation in neighbouring St James. "Who is lobbying for Hanover .... for the deep rural communities? No resources are in these communities .... the churches encourage everybody to get baptised and they are not really doing any real empowerment or programmes for the youths."
Donald Campbell, an experienced farmer based in the Riverside section of the parish, said recent graduates in some of the communities are in the so-called dire straits as many are not being given the requisite directional support by the relevant youth agencies.
"I cannot see the evidence of what the agencies are doing. They need to come out of the office; come into the communities engage the youth," said Campbell. "I was in the Mount Peace community recently and the youths were saying there's not even a youth club or anything there. These agencies are paid to serve the communities and the service is not being rendered. They have failed miserably."
In endorsing Campbell's sentiments, Burke said based on her assessment, urgent targeted community-based interventions are needed, particularly for areas like Green Island and its environs, where most of the parish's unattached youths reside.
"If you are sitting in an office, you cannot reach people that way. You have to get out into the communities and interact with the people, get the people to work with you, keep seminars for the youngsters and so forth," said Burke. "If you do three per month, for the year you would have done 36. If nobody in the community knows you, how are you going to be able to help people?
When Floyd Green, the state minister in the Ministry of Youth was contacted about the situation in Hanover, he said his ministry is seeking to employ a new Youth Empowerment Officer for Hanover, and that plans are afoot for the revamping of the operations of YICs.
"We are changing the whole positioning of our centres from information to innovation centres," said Green. "We want to make them into spaces where young people can come, they can be guided how, if they have an idea, how to form a business; how to move from idea into fruition, because how we reduce unattached youths, is by having more entrepreneurs."
Part of what I am doing now is visiting our youth information centres to have my own assessment of some of the needs," added Green.