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Homeless persons express gratitude for feeding programme

Published:Tuesday | March 31, 2020 | 12:12 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer

THEY STROLLED from various directions and converged along Church Street in downtown Kingston, the vast majority before the 9 a.m. breakfast time.

Sunday was the launch of the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation’s (KSAMC) special feeding programme for the homeless.

Under the programme, the homeless will receive meals twice a day, six days per week, from Sunday to Friday, for the next two months.

As they lined up, one man was heard saying, “Space off unuh self, enuh, a corona”.

Jamaicans have been encouraged to practise social distancing as a means of reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

A poor relief officer who was on site, told The Gleaner that many of them have been homeless for years, while others have no fixed address.

“I was invited to have a meal with them and I’m definitely looking forward to it,” said Arnold Russell, one of the 120 beneficiaries.

He was later served a warm meal and a tin of Malta.

The 74-year-old, who once resided at the Marie Atkins Night Shelter on Hanover Street, spoke highly of the Poor Relief Department.

Russell, a painter, told The Gleaner that he became homeless while experiencing some family problem years ago, and poor relief was recommended to him.

“I’m so grateful because they have been good to me. I stayed there for a little while before I really got promoted. I stayed on the outside, and it took a little while before I got a bed,” he recounted.

“Poor relief has given me the opportunity to get a room – they are paying my rent,, so I live in Georges Lane,” Russell said with a smile.

Joseph Jackson, 68, roams between Ocho Rios and Kingston. When he arrived at the KSAMC car park Sunday morning, he hailed the poor relief officers who have, and continue to assist him.

“I was in the home at Poor Relief [Department], nobody never run me out. A me just come out ‘cause me did waah likkle help, and sometimes di pocket kinda low and me guh out go do likkle hustling,” Jackson said.

He explained that he uses a drop-in centre in Ocho Rios for bathing and the washing of his belongings.

Jackson works as a night watchman for a small business and is paid a weekly wage.

“Mi have a bank account and every week mi put down something in it. Mi cyah nyam out everything one time! What about rainy day?” said an animated Jackson.

Though he has no source of income in Kingston, Jackson is desirous of residing in the parish and is in the process of seeking long-term shelter through the Poor Relief Department.

“I need somewhere to rest. I have an ulcer on my foot and every time I walk my foot keep on swelling. When I am in Ochi, I have to walk up and down, and is on the sidewalk I sleep,” he said.

Jamaica’s homeless population is in excess of 2,000, with at least half of that number in the Corporate Area.