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Britain offers more support for deported Jamaicans

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS Senior staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, January 30, 2013    

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INDIVIDUALS sent back to Jamaica from foreign countries now have added help to resettle and take steps to regain their identity with the release of a follow-up DVD, Coming Home to Jamaica, by the British High Commission.

The DVD is a counterpart to the Coming Home Jamaica handbook written in 2010 and revised in 2012 by the commission's Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programme and not only connects deportees to aid agencies, but also shares success stories of persons who have survived the ordeal.

Speaking at the launch at the commission on Monday evening, British High Commissioner Howard Drake said the production, which is part of a much broader programme by the embassy to help the state deal with the issue of deportation, contained "very powerful case histories of persons who have come back with not much help from friends and family and who have rebuilt their lives" and is "a real message of hope".

"It (deportation) is a problem that requires careful management and careful solutions. Deportations, removals from any country happen because it is a matter of popular will, but the British Government has always been very clear that we are not just going to dump these people on the streets but they deserve helping hands," he said.

Steve Burns, first secretary for migration at the commission, said the production "sends a good message".

"It doesn't give all the answers, but if we can show this before people come (back to Jamaica) it tells them that we are here to help and it's Jamaicans talking to Jamaicans," Burns said.

Professor of sociology, psychology and social work at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Bernard Headley — who also leads efforts to support deported Jamaican migrants and their families — said the film painted a very accurate picture of the situation.

"Here's where the society is challenged, they (British) are humanely bringing our folks back home, it's another question as to why our folks are the second largest client of their prison system, but now that they are trying to resettle them back home, what these folks want is for reintegration to become real," Professor Headley noted.

"The challenge is put your money where your mouth is and work with organisations to partner in this very big ambition called reintegration," he added.

Glen Powell, head of the National Organisation of Deported Migrants, said the production was a plug for deportees and would help to lift the burden of stigma.

"This DVD shows you the other side to a person who is deported. All of the people who are deported don't come back to tear down Jamaica, most of them come back to build it and if they are given a chance to show that, you will see what they can do. It's the positivity that I like about it, it shows what a person can do to get their life back on track," Powell told the gathering.

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