~~Volunteers from the Clarendon Parish Council, the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the National Solid Waste Management Authority did themselves proud on Labour Day. The volunteers removed dust and debris to reclaim and old ward at the Clarendon Infirmary in Denbigh. The facility will cater to Clarendon's homeless.
The Parish Council’s Homeless Committee, formed two years ago, has since its inception sought to establish a Homeless Facility for the parish’s street people and these plans received a fillip recently when the Council regained ownership of the defunct ward.
During the May 23 clean-up truck loads of old bedding and debris were removed from the premises, revealing a sound structure already outfitted with an administrative area, bathroom facilities and dormitories. Clarendon’s Inspector of the Poor, Mrs. Patricia Anderson, believes a lot can be done to serve the parish’s homeless community from the renovated building.
“It needs a little more renovation. But in case of a disaster it can be used temporarily. We will need appliances, deep freeze, and perhaps a washing machine, we have a few mattresses; it will take a few things to get it up and running,” she said.
The Labour Day activities were aimed at readying the premises to facilitate the recommended infrastructural works which will allow the Parish Council to begin offering, on a phased basis, an extensive range of services to Clarendon’s street persons, reported to be one of the largest populations in the island.
According to Secretary/Manager of the Clarendon Parish Council, Mr. Rowhan Blake, the immediate plans are to convert the front area of the building into a kitchen/food preparation area to which the Poor Relief department’s Tuesday street people feeding program will be permanently relocated.
The feeding program currently benefits some forty homeless people, on average..
During the ensuing phases of the facility’s renovation and development, service offerings will be expanded to include a shower and change of clothes; medical and psychiatric examination and overnight lodging since according to the parish’s Inspector of the Poor the facility will have a greater impact if it were to operate as a Homeless Shelter rather than a Drop-In Centre.
Mayor of May Pen and Chairman of the Clarendon Parish Council’s Homeless Committee, Councillor Scean Barnswell says it is hoped that as the Council works towards resourcing the Homeless Facility, this will encourage support from private stakeholder groups and civil society who ought to be reassured in the centralised approach being pursued by the Parish Council with regards to providing Relief to Homeless persons.
The Clarendon Parish Council’s Poor Relief department is working closely with the National Homeless Coordinator, Mr. Damian Campbell to ensure the efficiency of the Homeless Facility when it becomes fully operational.
The renovation of the building together with the installation of the requisite furnishings and amenities will ultimately cost the local authority over four million dollars.