Homestead Makes Fresh Start with CSJP

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 Homestead residents enjoy the launch of CSJP services in their community at the CSJP's PeaceMobile on Sunday May 1, 2011.

Since the Ministry of National Security's Citizen Security and Justice Programme (CSJP) was assigned to Homestead in St Catherine seven months ago, scores of residents have been accessing crime prevention services and making use of newly renovated facilities.

The community, located off the Old Harbour Road just outside of Spanish Town, and once a poster child for crime, violence and poor infrastructure, recently had its community centre upgraded under a Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) programme. CSJP is furnishing the centre and equipping with computers.

CSJP Community Action Officer, Faith Aljoe said that after the computers are delivered, residents will be able to use the centre for training. She also reports that although the football field is not yet complete, it is actively in use by the sports-loving Homestead residents. The first match was played two Saturdays ago.

Vocational skills training courses are ongoing, with some residents engaged in a level two welding programme that should be completed by October. A six-month auto mechanics programme which has garnered much interest is also being planned with the HEART National Training Agency.

CXC classes are planned for September, and will be taught by teachers who reside in the community and who have expressed interest in tutoring. Some residents are also engaged in the CSJP's Employment Internship Programme, with the hope that at the end of the six-month programme they will be retained by their employers. Fourteen persons in total from St Catherine are registered under this programme.

A three week summer job programme, Aljoe said, also started with 10 persons from Homestead being assigned to participating public and private sector enterprises in St Catherine.

The CSJP, a crime prevention initiative, believes that social intervention programmes are a necessary ingredient in uprooting crime from the source – joblessness, unemployment, lack of employability, dysfunctional parenting and a violent sub culture, among others. 

"Homestead has a large youth population, a number of them qualified – they have their CXC subjects, some are at university, but many drop out of school because of lack of funding," Aljoe said.

She said quite a number of students also had outstanding funds for schools and as such, CSJP ensured that they continued their education.

"There are a lot of qualified young people but they need direction, employment...," she said.

CSJP's entry into four communities in St Catherine is part of the solution being pursued in cooperation with residents to launch young people into positive and productive directions.