Partnership between Mirrors Programme and Regiment is aimed at reducing costs
The Mirrors Programme will continue this year with a potentially even larger residential course, despite a budget cut.
Addressing the House of Assembly on Friday on the budget for the Ministry of Youths and Sport, Glenn Blakeney said the budget reduction was due in part to a partnership between the programme and the Bermuda Regiment.
As part of the partnership, the programme will be able to use Warwick Camp for its residential programme rather than renting a site, an arrangement which Mr Blakeney said would save around $275,000.
He said another $159,000 in savings were made by reducing staffing levels and putting a greater emphasis on hiring summer interns to assist with preparatory work.
While the Minister said it was too soon to determine how many participants would take part in the residential session, the size of Warwick Camp would allow a larger group to be involved.
No residential session was held during the 2011/12 budget year, but Mr Blakeney said that those involved in the programme last year would be able to take advantage of this year’s residential session.
According to the 2012/13 Budget, the Mirrors programme was cut by 23 percent from $1.69 million to $1.3 million. It was the second consecutive year the programme was hit by heavy cuts.
But the Minister said programme staff have been working hard to increase efficiency without sacrificing quality, cutting costs and earning private donations.
He also said the programme would be putting a greater focus on prevention, with the Coaching for Success initiative, aimed at Middle School students.
“Our goal is to stop the problems before they start by building on protection that buffers young people’s exposure to risk whilst reducing the risk factors that are predictive of problem behaviours,” Mr Blakeney said.
“The Mirrors Programme uses this strategy with all levels of programming to be consistent with the prevention science of addressing the problem at the root cause versus the back end.”
Ministry Headquarters also saw a budget reduction, falling by $1.15 million, or 42 percent, but Mr Blakeney said that much of that reduction came from moving responsibility for Parish Councils out of the Ministry.
Meanwhile the budget for Youth, Sports and Recreation rose by $536,000, or around five percent.
Mr Blakeney said part of the reason for the increase is the construction of the National Aquatic Centre, which he said would be completed this year on time and under budget. The cost of the facility was said to be responsible for a $400,000 increase in the budget for sports facilities.
Another factor is the Island’s hosting of the Carifta Games this year, which was cited as part of the reason for a $169,000 increase in the budget for sports programmes.
Budget cuts were however found at the St David’s Motorsports park due to the loss of an employee and a freeze on filling the position and a reduction in money paid to rent portable toilets.
Responding to the budget, Opposition MP Donte Hunt expressed concern about the consecutive reduction in the budget for the Mirrors programme, saying that with the current issues facing the Island he expected the programme to have its funding increased.
He suggested that the Government look to consider allowing members of the private sector to take over the running of the programme to increase efficiency, but Mr Blakeney replied that he had not received an appropriate proposal.
Mr Hunt also expressed concern about an 86 percent reduction in grants issued by Youth, Sport and Recreation, saying: “I’m sure there are groups in the private sector who are just not getting that dollar that they need to fight that ever-growing social unrest in this country.”
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