Social work company to step up initiatives to safeguard children

Sunday, November 22, 2015

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INSPIRED by the success of the initial staging of its Safeguarding Children Conference in May this year, United Kingdom-based social work company One Step Forward Consultancy (OSFC) and the Victoria Climbie Foundation announced they will expand their outreach initiatives aimed at building the capacity of local childcare programmes.

"It was recommended at this year's conference that consideration be given to introducing work/placements that will allow overseas professionals, students, and youth workers to come to Jamaica to share with and exchange experiences with local counterparts," said OSFC Director Patricia McKenzie Thomas. "There will be liaison with universities, training institutions and organisations involved in childcare to facilitate the voluntary placements within local organisations of young people in child care services, from the UK, US, Caribbean and elsewhere."

McKenzie Thomas said that the introduction of these new initiatives was based on feedback from this year's conference which attracted the support of local childcare agencies, and will go forward to next year's which is slated for May 5-6, an additional day, under the theme 'Education, Training and Development'. The new activities will include social work training and placements targeting Child Month.

Workshops in various activities and sports targeting at-risk youth also form part of the new initiatives for the 2016 conference, and this will see Jamaica Welter Weight Champion Sakima Mullings leading the thrust to get at-risk youth involved in several boxing clinics across the island.

The boxer expressed delight at being given the opportunity to reach more at-risk youth across the island through his Oracabessa Boxing Club.

"I and members of my team and the wider boxing fraternity will teach the youth the basic fundamentals of boxing, which will involve live exhibition bouts led by our members who are actively involved in the youth boxing programme," he said. "Being a part of the conference held in May was a great experience, and with these new initiatives for the 2016 conference, I will be able to share with the youth, what I've learnt about boxing; the benefits of being involved in this sport and the opportunities available that can positively impact and change their lives," Mullings said.

Meanwhile, McKenzie Thomas is confident that the impact of the 2016 conference will be even wider, based on the approach being taken. She welcomed other recommendations from the public and persons involved in the care and protection of children "as it is through our collective efforts that we will be able to better care for and protect our children".

She noted that organisations which partnered with OSFC for the 2015 conference had again pledged their commitment, and new partners had indicated their planned support. These include the Victoria Climbe Foundation and other valuable stakeholders such as Dr James Gibbs; Celeste Wansley; Dr Yana Johnson; Tameka Hill; and Mullings' Oracabessa Boxing Club.

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