Work is expected to begin next month on a long-awaited shelter for homeless women and children.
“In the month of [May] we will be breaking ground for a shelter for females and children, because currently we do have women and children on the streets,” Kemar Saffrey, the founder and president of the Barbados Vagrant and Homeless Society (BVHS) announced this morning at a seminar at which he received donations from students of the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, the Codrington School and Springer Memorial School.
Thirteen charities were presented with cheques from students who took part in the last Scotiabank/Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation $20 challenge, at this morning’s seminar at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business.
Saffrey told the students the BVHS had seen an increase in the number of homeless people this year, when compared to 2017, continuing a trend that began in recent years.
So far this year 26 new homeless people have sought support from the charity, Saffrey said, bringing to approximately 500, the number of clients on file, up from about 380 two years ago.
The eight-year-old BVHS has been pleading with Government since 2016 for help in finding a home for vagrants.
Back then Saffrey had indicated that he would meet with the Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman and Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to push for a permanent home for the organization.
It was also in 2016 that the organization had launched its “dollar drive” as part of its “Building a Future for the Homeless” campaign aimed at raising $1.7 million for a new building to accommodate the rising number of vagrants seeking assistance.
After accepting a $20,000 donation from CIBC FirstCaribbean Bank last year as part of a planned $100,000 donation over a five-year period, Saffrey had again pleaded with Barbadians for more support as the organization continued to contend with reduced operating capacity at its Tudor Street location.
During this morning’s event Saffrey did not say where the new home would be located, nor did he provide further details.
However, he promised “to take your funding and definitely put it to that use to make sure that these persons on the street would not have to spend night after night there, but they would have now, a shelter that will be provided”.
He also said the BVHS was hoping to purchase a building by the end of this year, that would be retrofitted for homeless men.
The BVHS’s website said the charity has taken 113 people off the streets and assisted 80 women and children and 373 men since its inception in 2010.
The organization feeds approximately 120 people every week.