“Career feeders”, who are “greedy, lickerish and wicked” working people, are scrounging off feeding programmes for homeless people, a leading advocate has revealed to Barbados TODAY.
The Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society has been watching a scam develop for several months, president Kemar Saffrey revealed.
Meals prepared by individuals or groups for vagrants and the homeless were being collected by others often dressed in work clothes, some even working very near to feeding sites, he said.
“Some people just greedy and lickerish and wicked. There are about five feedings a day in Bridgetown, from us with breakfast and there is still another lady who does breakfast in Jubilee Gardens. Then there is still the Salvation Army that does lunch; there is still churches that does lunch around the same 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock.
“Then there is a feeding at 5 o’clock; then there is a feeding at 8 o’clock. So these guys get sometimes five to six square meals a day, sometimes ten because some of them get two servings at the various feeding agencies.”
The homeless advocate said he believes that some of those providing the meals were not moved by the development, because they were more focused on recording numbers.
“They don’t look at if the person is really in need. They are not delving in a little bit more to see if this person is homeless; [saying] ‘let me refer them to BVHS, if this person was retrenched; let me refer them’.
“But if you go into the food line today and you get away with somebody giving you food, you would obviously try again tomorrow, by the next person Friday, and that is how then you become what you call a career feeder.
“You just go into every line that there is food and nobody is stopping you, nobody is telling you anything so obviously you see this as another way of surviving.”
Some individuals and groups who carry out the feeding programmes have formed an online chat network to share information about feeding times and new developments, he said.
Saffrey said his charity has created a system where clients were issued with tickets so that they can access meals from feeding organisations and individuals.
He said that whenever it was the BVHS’s turn to feed the needy, an inquiry was made into those who were not registered with the society or who appeared to be in an economic bracket that would allow them to finance their own meals.
“We assess you, and if you don’t want the assessment then you can’t come to our feeding. The fact that you are not government funded, you are helped by corporate Barbados or by the general public, you have to save every single dollar that you get.
“There are people getting serious benefits for invalidity, NIS, pension or welfare money; then they would not be in my line.
“So my line numbers would be 60 and I don’t mind it being 60 because I know it is 60 people that deserve it and not because I am trying to say to you I feed 120 people and I feel good with those numbers. You can’t feel good with numbers when it comes to helping people. So you have to be able to cut it out.
“Don’t get me wrong. There are people who come into the line for the first time that you don’t know and you feed them. But then we would just direct them to our office so that we could do the back ground research on them, so we could do the investigations.”