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Portland homeless shelter crying out for help

'We feel adandoned by local goverrnment'

Monday, June 26, 2017

The Portland Rehabilitation Managment Centre and Homeless Shelter is lamenting the lack of support from businesses in the north-eastern parish as well as from the Government, and is calling for immediate help to continue to stay afloat.

“We are imploring Jamaicans, anyone who can assist, who can help donate food, clothing, money, anything, to do so. Persons can also adopt a resident and help to care for that person,” Krista-Gaye Plummer, client care coordinator at the centre, told the Jamaica Observer during a recent visit.

The centre, which can house a maximum of 30 residents, but currently houses 16, caters to homeless people and people with mental health conditions.

The facility is privately owned and was set up and funded by an American who saw the need during one of his many trips to the island.

However, according Plummer, the police, the hospital and the parish council make use of the services at the centre but neither local nor central government has sought to assist.

“Government should do more because we are assisting them, because we take on residents when they come. but they don't remember us; some of them are sent by the police, hospital or judge,” she said. “ All the street people, when they have nowhere to put them, this is where they come.”

“Wi beg government till wi tired,” a frustrated Plummer added.

She said that a few months ago a motorcade led by the Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie passed by the centre en route to visiting the poor relief department and no one thought to stop and check how they were managing at the centre.

“Not one of the councillors ever step foot and come up here,” she said, recalling that she once asked a councillor for money to buy a kitchen sink and she was told that the money was booked out for election campaign.

“We not getting any help at all, and we are struggling to buy stuff, and we are struggling,” Plummer said

A similar picture was painted as it relates to assistance from businesses in the parish.

“The support from the community and from businesses in the area is not good; is just two businesses that help us regularly,” Plummer told the Observer.

“We send letters to every business, even cornershops we beg some bottles a water, and most places said that they could not help us. Even in Easter we beg bun and no one responded,” Plummer said.

She said that they do get some help from Food For the Poor, but that is not enough.

Additionally, she said, “We try to reach out to family members to assist, but they don't really respond. we only have one resident whose family member assist.”

Currently, she said the centre is in urgent need of help to purchase toiletries, breakfast items, and to repair a fridge that is nearing its final days.

Plummer said that the centre does not only cater to the needs of the residents but also serves as drop-in centre for the homeless.

“As long as you are on the street you are welcome; we given them a meal, a suit of clothes, and we groom them, and they can also take a shower, sometime we even provide medication,” she expalined.

Asked how they survive, Plummer quickly replied, “ We beg and beg and beg.”

She explained that the facility is solely funded by the owner, which though not fully adequate, is used to pay the staff, cover bills, and buy food and other items.

She said that the centre tries its best to be self-reliant and grows most of the ground provision it needs.

Residents also do craft items, such as paintings, handbags and others and sell them at the craft market, she revealed.

“The centre will also be having a cake sale this Thursday,” Plummer said.

“We are urging people in and around the parish to come and support us,” she added.