Young people – especially those at risk – are to have a five-milion-dollar facility to help equip them for the job market, the local head of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) Emerald Holder has told Barbados TODAY.
He announced that construction on a YMCA social centre is to start in January.
“Our plan is to reach out to the youth in Barbados… and let me say, troubled youth… and to find a home away from home for them in Barbados.
“Presently we are offering self-help classes that would help them develop a skill; and we are hoping that with that skill they can go out into the community and offer their services for a fee,” Holder said.
He disclosed the YMCA already has some funds to begin replacing the old headquarters building on Pinfold Street that was demolished a number of years ago, with a state-of-the-art social centre.
But the Y’s leader told Barbados TODAY that the 139-year-old association still needs money to complete the construction.
He said: “We have some financial resources that we are willing to start with, but we are asking the public, please come and help us, because we are trying to make Barbados a better place, not only for myself and yourself and your kids, but for the youth of Barbados.
“So I am saying, come onboard and help us to reach out and solve some of the problems the youth have.
“By January next year we are hoping we can have ground break. And we are hoping we can start to get that building up in the air. The projected figure we are hearing from the architect and the quantity surveyors is five million dollars.”
The president of the charity revealed that the project would be done in phases.
“We want to do phase one which I am told is going to cost us about $500,000; and that is to prepare the site and get it ready. If we do it over a four-year period we are hoping that with $1.2 million a year, we could get it finished over four to five years.”
Holder also expressed concern that many of the youth today are unable to reason, and cited an example of an eight-year-old boy whose mother requested the YMCA’s intervention.
“And that tells me what we have done before cannot resolve the issues we are seeing today. Obviously that calls for a new direction, new thinking; new scope of direction… and our board is actively looking at resolving that.”
The Barbados branch of the YMCA was started in 1880 offering courses, camps and sporting events to successive generations of young people. It is supported financially by its own fund-raising efforts, programmes, hostel services, and a small government subvention.
A reduction in assistance from Government coupled with membership loss saw the Barbados branch of the YMCA come under some distress in recent years. This resulted in a reduction in some of its operations, including the closure of the canteen.
Former longstanding president of the Y, ex-Commissioner of Police Orville Durant, told an award luncheon in his honour that at times during his 37 years with the organization, it was frustrating to see the lack of full public support.
Durant had said that while some entities and individuals give money,”we were not getting the wider support financially from the wider public”.
The 84-year-old former president urged the current leadership to persist with the YMCA because “sooner or later, the Y will be fully recognised”.
Durant suggested: “The Y should pay a lot more attention to the young people.” He said the thrust of the association must be to provide a home away from home that offered hope for the youth.