President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness Kemar Saffrey is hoping that when Prime Minister Mia Mottley delivers her next Budget, it will include a subvention for the charity to help keep its shelter in The City open.
He told Governor General Dame Sandra Mason, who paid an official visit to the 90-bed Spry Street facility this morning, that the facility which opened about four weeks ago requires at least $25,000 monthly to keep it in operation, including paying rent, staff and for other amenities.
Saffrey said the response to the shelter, which is the first of its kind on the island has been increasingly overwhelming. He explained that while it was designed to accommodate people at night, there were women with young children staying there throughout the day because they had nowhere else to go.
The head of the Alliance, formerly known as the Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society, said other charitable organizations and government agencies, including the Welfare Department, had also been sending people in need of help to the shelter.
“We have not yet received any government subvention. We haven’t received any government subvention since we have opened over ten years. We have pressed year after year, and we have sent proposals. We are in talks with the Government at this point,” he said.
“We have had several meetings with Minister of Elder Affairs and People Empowerment Cynthia Forde. The Ministry of Finance has called for us to produce the finances that they need, and we have successfully done that, and we are just waiting for the estimates to be laid and that process in receiving money to be successful.”
Saffrey told Dame Sandra that while people were generous in their donations of food and clothing, the non-governmental organization was also seeking opportunities for businesses and the general public to donate cash to help meet the needs of not only running the shelter but also the Alliance’s rehabilitation programmes.
“We have people living here and that was never the plan. They were supposed to sleep and go and come back. So we have had to increase our cooks, security wardens, shifts had to change, just to make the shelter be able to run. We could be spitting out more than $25 000 a month to be able to operate here.
“Thank God the Maria Holder Memorial Trust is covering the rent, which is at $10 000 for this building, and we are being forced to look for the other funding to pay staff and then also to keep this building running. This building isn’t by any chance small, so the bills are very high,” Saffrey added, noting that the hope is to move to solar power for electricity generation.
Following the tour, during which Dame Sandra met members of the Board and staff of the Alliance, she praised the work of the organization and wished it well in its future endeavours. [email protected]