The Prison Fellowship is in desperate need of a home.
This was revealed by servant at the organisation, Thomas Watts, as he accepted a host of gifts which will be given to children of inmates of HMP Dodds Prison. The gifts were part of the annual Angel Tree donation Scotiabank held at the Rockley Court branch yesterday.
Scotiabank’s 10 years of generosity to the fellowship continued this year as willing staff and customers opened their hearts to ensure that the children, who would not have the comfort of their parents, at least were treated to a wonderful Christmas season.
In thanking the bank and customers, Watts said he was grateful that organisations came on board to assist them during the holiday season and noted that in spite of the challenging financial times it was important that the children received assistance year round. Throughout the year, he added, they provide the children with school books, clothing and other needs parents had difficulty meeting.
At this time of year about 500 children of prisoners approached for help, while they were many more who, because of the stigma they faced, were afraid to reach out.
Watts said the organisation had many plans for the future, primarily setting up a counselling programme for the same children to prevent the cycle of† imprisonment, but reported that the one major obstacle they faced was sourcing an adequate location from which they could carry this mission and many other programmes.
He said the building in Country Road in St. Michael where the fellowship was now housed was falling apart and they had been given until the end of the month to vacate.
“We have been looking at a counselling programme for a long time and we are trying our best to get something set up like that, but the authorities are just keeping us on promises and promises and nothing is coming out of it,” Watts said. “I hope in the new year we will get some backing. It would really help the kids — that is why we are here.
“This programme is important to stop the cycle and we are willing to do whatever we have to and if we don’t have the people here we can bring in the people to train and help our people, but we just need a place.
“We have a lot of plans, but we are handicapped because we don’t have a building — we don’t have a place to house our people and we have been getting promises, promises, promises. We have tailoring, wood working, business, upholstery, mechanics, all types of people, but we don’t have a place where we can bring those people,” he said.
Marketing Manager at Scotiabank Caribbean East, Marcelle Greenidge, also took the time to thank customers for their continued support of the initiative. She noted that each year she sees an outpouring of support for the worthwhile effort and was pleased that the quantity had not fallen off. (KC)
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