'Come on board'


'Come on board'

Colonel Rickman calls for more support for HOPE, after partnership with Gore Family Foundation

Observer West writer

Thursday, June 07, 2018

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FAIRFIELD, St James — National coordinator for the Housing, Opportunities, Production and Employment (HOPE) programme, Colonel Martin Rickman, is calling on the private sector and government entities to partner with the State-run programme in an effort to create more opportunities for vulnerable youths across the island.

There is an estimated 200,000 vulnerable and unattached youths islandwide; however, the HOPE programme launched by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in May last year, which is aimed at providing educational and job opportunities for young people, currently has some 3,000 youth engaged.

Colonel Rickman, who was speaking at a partnership agreement-signing ceremony between Phillip and Christine Gore Family Foundation and the HEART Trust/NTA to establish the St James National Youth Service Corp Programme, said “a far way is left to go”.

He emphasised that with more entities coming aboard, like the Gore Family Foundation, the programme is capable of putting a meaningful dent into the massive population of unattached youth.

“The reason why we only have 3,000 is because that is the space which we can place persons in. In truth, we have another 5,000 that have been trained and are waiting placements. And so I am calling on more organisations to come on board with us and open your doors to a partnership like this one so that we can meaningfully impact the population's unattached youths across Jamaica,” Colonel Rickman argued.

It was a similar call made by the managing director of the HEART Trust/NTA, Dr Janet Dyer.

“And, as we go through, we are hoping that other persons will see what this partnership is doing for the young people in Jamaica, that they too will come aboard, because if we do not curb what is happening to our young people at this time, we don't have a future,” said Dr Dyer.

Director of the Gore Family Foundation, Christine Gore, told those in attendance at the signing ceremony in St James on Friday that the nation's young people who have paid the price for a system that has failed then can no longer be ignored.

“These young Jamaicans are undereducated and undertrained. They are angry and they are hopeless. They are the perfect candidates for gangs and criminal undertakings. We all pay the price for the gang violence that ravages our island home. Unless we take effective action to control the injustices suffered by these young people, we will continue year after year to break our own murder records,” Gore reasoned.

She said her foundation has waited for one year to decide “on the right programme to partner with.”

“The Gore Family Foundation has been waiting for one year for the right programme and the right partner to join forces with to combat this problem. We are confident that the prime minister's HOPE programme for unattached youths is the right programme and HEART Trust/ NTA is the right partner,” she argued.

Member of Parliament for St James West Central Marlene Malahoo Forte in her remarks said she was rather touched and pleased to hear that HOPE was the first programme that the Gore Family Foundation has found it fit to partner with.

“It pleases me greatly, because a lot of thought and a lot of work was put into this programme, and already we are seeing how it is changing lives positively,” said Malahoo Forte.

The MP added that the prime minister's aim was to establish a compulsory national service to deal with at-risk youths. However, she said, because of limited funds, the current model was started.

The contract signing ceremony which was held at the Montego West Village, Fairfield in St James, a 223-acre housing development being undertaken by the Gore Developments Ltd, also saw a cheque valued at $6 million being handed over to the HEART Trust/NTA.

The foundation is sponsoring some 50 interns, especially within the community of Granville, St James, for training and job placement on completion of that training.

In addition, the foundation has committed to assist with the placement and mentorship of interns in areas such as digitisation, construction, plumbing, and landscaping.

The HOPE programme, which targets people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are not employed or enrolled in an approved educational facility, is implemented through the HEART Trust/NTA.

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