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Clarendon's homeless persons get drop-in centre

Published:Monday | September 28, 2015 | 12:00 AMShanique Samuels
Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Brown (left) points to a section of the ceiling to Scean Barnswell (centre), chairman of the Clarendon Homeless Committee, and Chief Petty Officer Allan Hurley.

MAY PEN, Clarendon:

The Clarendon Drop-In Centre has now been made a reality through a major boosting in renovation and general rehabilitation work by a group of marines from the British Royal Navy assisted by members of the Jamaica Defence Force.

The renovation work which took place over three days, saw the complete retrofitting of the once dilapidated building which will be used as a drop-in centre for homeless and mentally ill persons in the parish.

Chairman for the Clarendon Homeless Committee Scean Barnswell said the facility is a great addition to the parish especially for the Poor Relief Department, which has oversight for the homeless, mentally ill and otherwise indigent persons roaming the streets.

"The facility will be used to look after persons in need so they will get a bath, a change of clothes, a warm meal, and they will be seen by a doctor where they will be assessed and treated and depending on their state of mind, they will be placed in a rehabilitation system."

Responding to concerns that having such a facility may attract more 'needy' people and cause them to overrun the facility, he said a policy will be implemented to investigate the persons visiting the facility and a profile will be created for them so that the committee will be able to keep record of these people so they can control the number of persons they will have to care for.

"For those who are not as destitute, we will also conduct an investigation and where we can find family members, we will contact them and form a working partnership and see how best we can care for their relatives," explained an elated committee chairman.

The Royal Naval officers came aboard the British Royal Fleet called the Auxiliary Lyme Bay, which is a disaster relief oriented vessel that does six month tours at a time in the Caribbean. They came to Jamaica from Dominica after a week of post Hurricane Erika clean-up mission. The team headed by Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Brown have completely remodelled the building, creating a facility that will be conducive to the care of those it will serve.

Included in the crew is a set of highly skilled officers in areas such as electrical installation, plumbing, masonry and building engineering. "It's always a challenge finding the right job, and we are happy that we got a job of this magnitude so that we can use all our skills and talents because we have a great team of competent workers who are ready and willing to work. It is our responsibility to support the British overseas territories, because this is a very big part of Britain's foreign policy and any support we can give to these territories is important to Britain. The ship is here to provide disaster relief to the Caribbean, but because disasters don't happen so regularly, we find other initiatives on land and give of our service."