Dramatic increase in Mandeville's homeless population, says FreckletonThursday, August 26, 2021
BY KASEY WILLIAMS
MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Chair of the Candle in the Dark Ministries Wendy Freckleton says there has been an increase in the number of homeless people in Mandeville in the last two years.
“... Probably 80 per cent are not from Manchester,” she said. “What we find is that these people migrate from other parishes...they stay here for a little bit and then sometimes they will move on,” she added.
Speaking at a groundbreaking for the construction of a building to accommodate 10 homeless individuals on a nightly basis at Candle in the Dark last Friday, Freckleton said the multi-purpose facility has seen more than double the number of homeless people since the start of this year when compared to 2018.
“We moved in 2018 from about 40 persons to, I think we have 83 persons now [that] we have served since the year started, and that is a dramatic increase for any population at all. We know that based on what is happening with the [novel coronavirus pandemic], the hardship and the poverty that is going to come from that is going to intensify.
“You're going to find more people having need for these kinds of facilities,” she added.
Freckleton also called upon the local municipality for assistance.
“We don't want people to become homeless. We want to encourage the Manchester Municipal Corporation, through its homelessness committee, to ensure that part of our focus is to prevent homelessness,” she said.
Candle in the Dark, which is located adjacent the Mandeville Regional Hospital, is now constructing at a space that was used to house homeless people in tents at the onset of the pandemic.
“Last year, we put some tents on that platform which were donated by the Manchester Municipal Corporation to house the emergency cases… When COVID-19 hit, the homeless people really didn't have anywhere to sleep. They didn't have anywhere to turn, and especially the ones that are mentally challenged, sometimes we are not able to merge them with the other persons that we have immediately, because they need to go through a little isolation and a little bit of grooming before we can merge them with the others for safety and health reasons,” explained Freckleton.
Through the support of donors, including the Jamaica Association of Switzerland, Moorland Development, FirstCaribbean Bank, and Dale Graves-Smith of Sagicor, the centre has received US$2,600 and $20,000 as well as contributions of material.
Freckleton told journalists that the centre still needs approximately $400,000, small tables, blankets, sheets and toiletries to complete the project and furnish the space by the end of this month.
She disclosed that the facility has been upgraded from a drop-in centre to a multi-purpose facility.
“Now we are a drop-in centre, a shelter and a transitional facility, so we offer all three services. This is the only facility in Jamaica which offers all three [services],” she said.
Freckleton underscored the need for staff with psychiatric training to assist in catering to those who are mentally challenged.
“A part of our challenge at Candle [in the Dark Ministries] has been staffing; we have reached out to the Manchester Municipal Corporation and the Ministry of Health hoping that good sense will prevail and that they would actually come in and do what they can to help with that, because although we have the building sometimes we are not able to take in a lot of the mental cases because we have no psychiatric nurse aides. We want to appeal to the minister to see what he can do to help us with that,” she said.