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HMC Poor Relief Department hosts fun day for homeless

BY ANTHONY LEWIS
Observer West writer

Thursday, October 14, 2021

LUCEA, Hanover — The Poor Relief Department of the Hanover Municipal Corporation on Monday hosted a fun day, which included counselling sessions, for its clients and, by extension, the homeless population in the parish in observance of World Homeless Day, which was observed on Sunday, October 10.

As part of the activities, two teams — Royalty and Sunshine — competed for prizes in a wide variety of games.

A presentation was also done on mental health.

“One of the main reasons we decided to have the fun day is because we understand how important family is in reintegrating the homeless population into the society. So, today (Monday), we try to have relatives of these persons participate in the fun day as well,” stated Sonya Fritz, deputy inspector of poor for the Hanover Municipal Corporation Poor Relief Department.

Maureen James, regional manager for the board of supervision in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, commended the team for their commitment and resilience in staging the programme.

“I can say that the poor relief department in Hanover has been getting a lot of support from the NGOs (non-governmental organisations). I just want to thank them. I want to thank the poor relief officers who are giving selflessly and as I said poor relief is a calling and the officers have demonstrated today their selflessness by putting on this fair for the homeless persons and actively participating in it,” stated James.

Administrator of the Hanover Drop-in Centre, Brenda Stoddart, said mental health affects most of the clients at the centre and as such, focus was placed on mental health during Monday's fare.

“Why we are focusing on mental illness and mental health here today is that a significant number of our clients have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness.

Imagine not having anywhere to sleep to feel safe. Depression can lead to other mental illnesses, stated Stoddart.

The Hanover Drop-in Centre is mandated to rehabilitate and reintegrate its clients into society. This is done through individual and group counselling, the provision of psychiatric treatment and a training programme in which clients are trained in making jewellery, pillows and cushions from which profits from the sales are given to the clients to assist them with purchasing personal hygiene items. Assistance is also provided in getting jobs for clients.

The centre, which has some 25 clients, provides a place for the clients to bathe, wash their clothes, get warm meals and a change of clothing.

The centre, located on Miller's Drive in Lucea, has produced a number of success stories since opening its doors to the public in March of 2019.

The Observer West spoke with Radcliffe Campbell, a client at the centre, who is now gainfully employed in the transport sector.

In February of last year, Campbell told the Observer West that he had renewed his driver's licence, adding that he wants to get back into the world of work.

Another client, who is now employed as a security guard, and who asked not to be named, said before going to the centre, he faced many difficulties.

“Before coming to the drop-in centre, life was like a roller coaster. I did not have any prospects for the future. I could not think about five years into the future. Mi only think day by day.

“Since coming to the drop-in centre, I have met a second family. Dem a mi support system. Dem really made a change in a mi life, now mi employed, mi have somewhere fi live and mi medicated. I have regular visits to the clinic to take care of my mental health. Now mi life is different because of the drop-in centre. It provided something for mi to eat when mi did never had anything to eat,” stated the young man.