'No more food'

Homeless asking for jobs and shelter, non-profit official reports

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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While charity organisations make a special effort to feed the homeless, an official of a non-profit entity yesterday revealed that increasingly people living on the streets are asking for jobs and homes, rather than food.

“We sometimes find it hard when we interview some of the homeless persons. When we interact with the homeless persons they say 'no more food, no more food'. They don't want any more food. They want occupation and they say they want shelter,” Sheryl Muir, from the Association of Business Persons, told reporters and editors at the Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange.

For that reason, Muir said that her organisation, which also has an operational arm called Unite Jamaica, has devised an approach to reach the homeless by tapping into unconventional areas to help them.

These include hosting a medical fair, doing dental checks and creating a concept paper for the National Empowerment Shelter Transformation Nest that will create a shelter and job opportunities for homeless people who are able to work and want to restart their lives.

“We are now in discussion with prospective partners. We hope to get this off the ground soon so that those homeless who are willing to work can reintegrate in society and get a second chance at life,” Muir said.

“The fair is a partnership with the University of Technology Jamaica College of Oral Health Science to conduct medicals on a monthly basis. I also give thanks to the Open Arms Centre, Salvation Army, Marie Atkins Shelter, and the National Health Fund that have helped us. We are currently in discussion with the medical faculty at The University of the West Indies to conduct medicals,” Muir explained.

She also said the organisation wanted to observe December 18-24 as Homeless People Awareness Week to inform and educate the population about homelessness and remove the stigma and perception that these individuals are mad people and drug addicts. However, a petition seeking 16,000 signatures within 30 days to have the application considered received only 400 signatures.

After the Monday Exchange, Muir told the Observer that the main problem with that was that the homeless could not participate in signing the petition as they have no access to computers.

She said the association strongly believes that in order for Jamaica to experience positive change, the country needed to resocialise its people.

“We have to change the mindset, morals, values, and attitudes and we have to respect ourselves and environment. To achieve this goal we have to start from the bottom up and it's important to let our people know that there are many losses in life and we need to remove the entitlement mentality from our minds, hence the importance for empowerment,” she said.

Overall, Muir maintained that the association will continue to be the catalyst for national empowerment and transformation in Jamaica through the engagement of businesses, entities and individuals to unite and network for each other, while developing and sustaining charitable concepts and initiatives that uplift the less fortunate within society.

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