Thu | Jun 21, 2018

Understaffed and underfunded

Published:Tuesday | March 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Like many organisations, the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) is making do with what it has.

Though it has a presence in all 14 parishes, the DRF just doesn't have the numbers, personnel-wise.

"What is clear is that we are thin on the ground," DRF's CEO Donna Parchment Brown told The Gleaner. "We might have one, two or three team members in an entire parish at a location where we are relying on volunteers."

Parchment Brown said it was difficult for the workers to deliver the amount of assistance needed.

"Not that they're not willing, but they are not able without some assistance," she said.

Parchment Brown explained that at the Spanish Town centre, for example, the rent for that office is so high, notice has been given for closure within the next three months.

"We can't afford to operate it. It's an expensive facility," she lamented. Around the island, some areas are badly understaffed. Trelawny, for instance, has one person in that office, although it's shared with the Victim Support Unit, a good liaison entity for the DRF.

St Mary centre coming

Parchment Brown noted that the former custos of St Mary, Bobby Pottinger, tried to get a building in that parish for the mediation centre to use.

"There is actually a building now which we hope the new custos and the JPs and the Ministry of Justice will enable us to open a centre there," she said. "Because St Mary has been in the news a lot."

She noted there were many justices of the peace who have been trained as mediators, and others who want to be trained to help people with their problems, but they needed the resources.

Formerly the Mediation Council of Jamaica, the DRF was incorporated under the Companies Act on July 11, 1994. It is funded in part through a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Justice that supports their deliverables, but the DRF writes numerous project proposals for grants from international development partners.

"A lot of our programmes are really built on the projects that we do," she said. "So we do a project and we never really stop."

Parchment Brown said the foundation tries to pool resources in light of the fact the entire country is facing financial constraints.