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Home is where the heart is as new charity launched

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Arthur Wightman, the founder of new charity home, and Denise Carey, its executive director (Photograph supplied)
Arthur Wightman (Photograph supplied)
Denise Carey (Photograph supplied)

A new charity to eradicate the scourge of homelessness has opened its doors.

The founders of “home” will also work with people sleeping rough as part of its bid to tackle the problem.

The charity was set up by Arthur Wightman, the head of professional services firm PwC Bermuda, who said that there was no “comprehensive strategy and plan to end homelessness”.

Mr Wightman added: “Homelessness represents a profound assault on dignity, social inclusion and represents a violation of basic human rights – no one in our community should face homelessness or the prospect of it.

“What is astounding is that in nearly all cases homelessness is preventable and, in every case, homelessness can be ended.

“Through collaborative approaches we intend to help each homeless person to achieve their best life and to build the interventions necessary to prevent homelessness.”

Mr Wightman said the homeless had a vital role to play in helping the charity.

He explained: “We must learn as much as we can from those afflicted in order to better inform solutions that will prevent homelessness or interventions for those who are already homeless.”

Denise Carey, a veteran of the non-profit sector and a former executive director of the Sunshine League children’s charity has been appointed as home’s executive director.

Ms Carey said: “We believe that how we do things is as important as what we do – home will be a citizen-first organisation.

“As long as there are homeless people, or people at risk of homelessness, our focus will be on building lasting relationships with them and providing or co-ordinating care.”

She added that the charity would “prioritise identifying and building relationships with the entire homeless population in Bermuda”.

Ms Carey said: “Homelessness impacts us all either directly or indirectly.

“We believe that in order to successfully end homelessness, the whole community must have a voice and role.

“There is a lot of incredible work that already exists in support of our most vulnerable.

“We see a huge opportunity to help weave together our existing systems, that are perhaps a little fragmented, and to plug any remaining gaps.”

The charity is already working with other groups to collect statistics on the homeless population.

The charity said: “Over the coming months, this data will directly inform decision-making about the future.

“Of equal importance to engaging with the impacted population, home is focused on wider stakeholder engagement and collaboration.

Mr Wightman emphasised home did not plan to replace other organisations that worked with the homeless.

He added: “One of our guiding principles for home is that of empathetic collaboration.

“We want to come in support of solving a most critical issue. To apply new leadership.

“We come with ambition, resource and a desire to make our own contributions where needed.

“Importantly we intend to empower local change-makers with the resources they need to grow and create larger change throughout the community where it is better that they do so.”

The new charity was backed by other organisations that work in the field.

Claudette Fleming, the executive director of Age Concern, said: "I am pleased to be apprised of the start of ‘home’ and its mission to collaborate with community partners to prevent, address and end homelessness in its many forms in Bermuda.

“The pandemic, in particular, has demonstrated that a non-profit can work effectively with each other and a broader sector of community stakeholders such as, the Government and private sectors.

Sheelagh Cooper, the chairwoman of Habitat for Humanity, Bermuda, added: "We recognise that the problem of homelessness in Bermuda is bigger and more complex than can be resolved by any single organisation, be it government, private initiatives or, as in our case, the charitable sector.

The Government has also thrown its weight behind the charity.

Tinee Furbert, the minister of social development, said the Government was aware of the homelessness problem and prepared to work with others to tackle it.

She added: “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate to create a homeless plan that encapsulates the goals of home and the Government.”

To get help from home or offer support, contact its WhatsApp on 599-9933 or e-mail denise@home.bm.

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Published October 11, 2021 at 7:59 am (Updated October 11, 2021 at 9:03 am)

Home is where the heart is as new charity launched

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