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Minister condemns attacks on homeless

A spate of brutal attacks on homeless individuals has drawn condemnation from Minister of Youth Charles Griffith, who declared Wednesday that there are ample opportunities in place for young people to improve their lives, making it unnecessary to resort to “nefarious” acts.

One person is assisting police with enquiries as detectives probe the latest attacks. The Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) reported that several of its clients were severely beaten, with one experiencing memory loss, another being stabbed, and a female client being slapped in the face, among other injuries.

“It disturbs me as Minister of Youth to hear that we had youngsters who are involved in nefarious acts with persons who are down on their luck…the homeless. But, measures are in place from the ministry. [in] Sports, we have community programs…sports that are happening across the island. Community Development is providing opportunities for persons to do programmes at our community centres. So there really is no need for our young people to be involved in some of these acts that we are seeing ever so often,” he said.

Griffith stressed that the government would allocate necessary resources to programmes that could positively impact those who desire change. He acknowledged that the majority of young people on the island are involved in positive activities rather than negative ones.

As this year is dedicated to the youth, the government aims to highlight positive role models and inspire the perpetrators of “wicked acts” to follow a more constructive path. Griffith mentioned the upcoming National Youth Awards, which recognizes and promotes the work of positive young individuals.

The minister highlighted the government’s support of various programmes, such as Project Dawn, vocational training, technical assistance, and agricultural equipment provision, to foster positive growth among the youth.

This Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness client was injured in his head.

Griffith assured that the government is dedicated to preventing the minority of troubled youth from pursuing negative paths. Programs like national summer camps, Next Step training, and the national youth hotline have been launched to offer structured activities, vocational skills, and counselling support to young people.

“We will continue to do all that is necessary to promote those young people who want to travel on a positive route. It is definitely a minority [of lawless youth]. Right now Project Dawn is over-subscribed for persons who want to get involved in vocational training. We also provide technical assistance. We have had the launch in St Andrew where we provided agricultural equipment for those guys who are involved,” Griffith said.

“So definitely it is a minority of young people on our island who seem to want to go down a negative path. So if it is a case that they want to travel on that Damascus road, then Government is putting everything in place to prevent them from going down that road,” he added.

He said the national summer camps which are currently on for those who are on vacation are just a small part of the programmes that Government is funding so young people can get involved in structured activities that will help them to grow at the primary level.

“We have the Next Step training which is a programme that allows persons to go to training institutions on the island to gain vocational skills and to provide them with an opportunity for entry-level qualifications as well,” said the minister for youth.

“Only in recent times, we would have launched Project Dawn which is seeing a block committee go to blocks across the island, gathering information from those youngsters about things that they want to be involved in. Not only gathering information but providing an opportunity for those who are on the blocks, to go to the SJPI [Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology], to go to PomMarine [hospitality training institute], to go to Barbados Vocational Training Board to acquire skills that they may not have been able to get on their own.”

Griffith said there are programmes that would allow those youth to be self-employed with technical assistance and the training is also available for them.

He said that only last week, the ministry launched the national youth hotline for youngsters who needed to have someone to talk to when it is not possible in their homes.

“We have provided counsellors to be the first-line of intervention. But if there is a need for us to bump that to another level, then we have MOUs [memorandum of understanding] with those organisations who are involved at a professional level in counselling,” the minister added.

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