Charities team up to help family evicted after loss of loved one to violence
A grief-stricken family who lost a loved one to violence was struck another blow when they were evicted from their home this week.
But the family – who suffered a massive loss of income because of the Covid-19 pandemic – were saved further stress after Rotarians stepped in with a $5,000 donation to help them.
Hamilton Rotary Club joined forces with campaigner Gina Spence to cover the cost of emergency shelter and supplies for the family, who lost their home on Tuesday.
Ms Spence told a meeting of Hamilton Rotarians on Tuesday that her charity’s Champions Programme was set up to help families who had lost loved ones to violence.
Members heard that a moratorium on evictions was proposed while pandemic restrictions were in force, but there was still no legal requirement.
Rotarians responded to the family’s plight with the donation to help with relocation, temporary housing and food costs.
Ms Spence told the club her team of volunteers would help the mother of two contact social services such as the Hustle Truck, the Bermuda Housing Corporation and Financial Assistance while they were “going through this difficult time – so they don’t drown”.
She added: “We get them to a safe space so they can begin to stabilise.”
Ms Spence, whose Champions Programme has for ten years dealt with the aftermath of gun crime, said families of victims struggled to be heard – and were often left grappling with a general feeling that victims “deserved it”.
She highlighted the murder of Jordan Outerbridge on April 6, considered by police to be the mistaken victim of a gunman who waited outside a Warwick house while a group of friends finished a regular game of cards.
Ms Spence said: “I heard the deep cry of a wife last week who was saying she wants justice for her husband.
“She said he did not deserve it and he was not a part of any of that environment.
“You could hear her saying ’my husband was a victim – an innocent person’.”
Ms Spence added the identity of the family helped was confidential.
But Ms Spence said the woman was among many who had suffered as a result of lost jobs over the Covid-19 pandemic.
She added the family now had shelter for six weeks – and appealed to anyone who could assist the youngsters with laptops for their education to get in touch with her.
Ms Spence said she could be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 296-0016.
Rotarians heard that the smallness of the island compounded the difficulties of families left grieving in the aftermath of gang violence.
Ms Spence said: “Last year, we had a huge number of people march in the streets of Hamilton for the injustice done to George Floyd.
“But when it is our men, sons, nephews and neighbours, we could barely get people to acknowledge that, let alone advocate.”
She added her charity was supporting 27 families with children coming to terms with loss, often in cases where they shared neighbourhoods with the families of those who had carried out the attack.
Ms Spence said: “You have to live with it on a daily basis.
“I find many victims, a lot have just left Bermuda and moved to the UK or other places.”
She told Rotarians support and education on how to tackle grief helped break the cycle of violence.
Ms Spence said: “Gang members have told us people may be killing one another in Bermuda for reasons we may not understand.
“But the moment people start to die, those people’s children will have a justified reason to kill.”
Rotarians met in the wake of Ms Spence’s talk to cover the cost of the charity’s assistance to the family, which who had a package of food, gifts and essentials waiting for them at their new accommodation yesterday.