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Easter joy as Mandeville Police Youth Club feeds homeless

Published:Tuesday | April 19, 2022 | 12:09 AMTamara Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Members of the Mandeville Police Youth Club distributing bun and cheese and clothing to homeless persons in Manchester.
Members of the Mandeville Police Youth Club distributing bun and cheese and clothing to homeless persons in Manchester.

MANDEVILLE, Manchester:

Approximately 60 homeless persons in Mandeville received care packages of bun and cheese, juice, and clothing from the Mandeville Police Youth Club and Community Safety and Security Branch on Sunday.

As part of its mandate to serve the communities, police youth club coordinator for the parish, Constable Rayon Thompson, said it plans several outreach projects each year to keep young people engaged.

“We are trying to have young people volunteer and give back to society, so we got some sponsorship from COK Co-operative Credit Union, independent donor Mrs Levy, and personal donations from police and the persons who benefitted were very receptive,”

Thompson said he is hoping to have at least five similar outreach projects, across the parish, in addition to other scheduled activities each year.

“Since the pandemic, we would not have gotten the chance to do much, but it is part of our plan for the next outreach in June to go to the infirmary, providing that we will be able to go there. Next, our plan is to have an outreach at one of the children’s homes in the parish,” the constable said.

With heavy reliance on membership dues to finance initiatives, Thompson has urged corporate Jamaica to pitch in to support the cause.

“This [level of engagement] is very important to try to turn young people’s mind away from criminality and to something constructive. What we notice is that young people who are part of the police youth club tend to be a bit more respectful and mannerly, and we encourage them to use this club it as an opportunity to build themselves,” he said.

According to Thompson, there are approximately 700 police youth club members across the parish, but only 15 of the 30 clubs are active.

He said efforts to reactivate dormant clubs are ongoing but require a pooling of resources to improve the club’s viability and effectiveness.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Elsa Smith, who spoke at the recent town hall meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, underscored the need to address the challenges faced by young people.

“We need every support ... . We are twinning neighbourhood watch groups with the police youth groups to ensure that the movement continues,” said Smith, who is territorial officer with responsibility for community safety and security.

“We need all hands on deck. We need the older persons to mentor and talk to the youth club members and show them a better way.”