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Major Focus on the Homeless October 10

The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development will be commemorating World Homeless Day on October 10, with a slew of activities for the vulnerable population islandwide, through its Poor Relief Departments.

The international observance is commemorated annually on October 10 to raise awareness of the needs of persons experiencing homelessness locally, and provides opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness.

This year, World Homeless Day is being observed under the theme: ‘Changing the Lives of Persons Experiencing Homelessness Through Community Involvement and Career Development’.

In an interview with JIS News, Secretary of the Board of Supervision within the Ministry, Treka Lewis, shared details about the activities being hosted for the homeless across the island.

“What we’re doing this year is looking beyond the basics and trying to develop the potential that some homeless persons have. For example, this year we will be working closely with HEART/NSTA Trust to have literacy assessment for adult learners and to do certification for those who can be certified,” Ms. Lewis said.

This, she added, is being included in the usual grooming and feeding of the homeless, which is a frequent offering of the Poor Relief Departments.

Ms. Lewis said that activities planned for the day include components to uplift persons experiencing homelessness and encompass the theme of the day.

“We will be having a number of different activities for persons who are homeless. There will be a concert where they showcase their talent [in St. Elizabeth, Trelawny and St. Ann]. In Hanover, we will be having a display of the items that homeless persons would have made and those will be on sale on the day as well. In St. James we are having a sports day at Jarrett Park,” she noted.

“In Kingston, we are having career development activities and social intervention at the Desmond McKenzie Transitional Centre for the Homeless, and in St. Ann, we will be having a march from our drop-in centre to the town in Ocho Rios. We will be bringing awareness to the issue of homelessness and homeless persons will be a part of that march,” she said.

Ms. Lewis informed that in St. Thomas there will be medical screening and counselling; health checks and skills assessments in Portland; a sensitisation town walk in St. Mary; feeding and grooming in Westmoreland; dental and medical checks, vaccinations and counselling in Manchester; counselling and HIV testing in Clarendon; and public service provision from various government agencies and HIV/syphilis testing in several locations in St. Catherine.

These services are being offered in collaboration with government and non-governmental organisations, such as the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Registrar General’s Department, Electoral Office of Jamaica, Children First Agency and Lions Clubs, among others.

“Persons are welcome to assist, to volunteer their services, to come and fellowship or just interact with our service users and bring a little bit of light and joy on that day,” Ms. Lewis said.

She explained that the day’s activities aim to shed light on the programmes of the Poor Relief Departments, garner public support for the homeless community and remind the homeless that they matter and persons care about them.

A full list of all activities and locations can be found on the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development’s website: and social media pages.