Log In

Reset Password

Premier urges dialogue over homeless centre

David Burt, the Premier (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The Premier has urged dialogue between a charity running a housing facility for the homeless and local residents who have voiced concerns about its proximity to children.

The centre, run by Home, is based in Messina House on Boaz Island, Sandys, and is close to a community centre as well as a public dock and playing field traditionally used by families. It began operating in December.

Aside from safety concerns, residents accused Home of failing to consult with them prior to launching. They said a meeting about the centre was only held on March 24 this year which they claimed fell far short of addressing their concerns.

Residents launched a petition which they sent to David Burt asking him to step in and help.

A Government spokeswoman said: “To ensure that a full understanding is achieved, this requires consultation and an open exchange of information, whatever entities are engaged in the delivery of these services.

“The Premier has encouraged all parties to continue to meet as necessary and to ensure that the residents have all information possible.”

The spokeswoman added: “The Premier has received the petition from the residents of Boaz Island and takes seriously the concerns that have been outlined.”

The Minister of Social Development and Seniors, Tinee Furbert, added: “Home has been heavily engaged with community and service stakeholders who have been working with the homeless since its inception, with the only intention of helping the vulnerable members of our community.

“We are grateful for those charities who are able to assist those who may be seeking shelter. My hope is that we can all work together to an find amicable solution to the challenges we face.”

Residents claim that Home has been unwilling to share its formally documented procedures, including how it conducts risk assessments on its clients.

They said: “In their application to the Charities Commission they state that there will be publicly available information by the end of 2021. To date, this is not the case. Home has not been transparent about their operation and many careless steps have been made and promises not kept.”

There have been further talks since March between residents and Arthur Wightman, Home’s chairman and founder.

The residents’ concerns followed a report in January of a Home client allegedly grabbing a child by his wrist and asking him questions of a sexual nature. No charges were ever brought.

In response to the incident, Home dismissed the man from the centre and discontinued accepting young referrals from the Department of Child and Family Services, which had referred him to the charity.

Residents have spoken of other incidents including a woman who was allegedly followed by two residents, and have listed a number of measures they would like to see put in place.

Denise Carey, Home’s executive director, admitted the charity could have carried out better communication and said she intends to set up an oversight committee which will include charity representatives and area residents.

She said Home’s clients were low risk, adding: “Our clients are making a commitment to bring about change and enhance their lives in a permanent way.

“I am confident that if the community gives them an opportunity to work with us they will be just as surprised as I have been with how much talent and love they have, and how open they are to suggestions.”

While, as a charity Home is regulated under the Charities Act 2014, it is not subject to regulations for operating as an adult group living transitional home.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published April 20, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated April 20, 2022 at 8:12 am)

Premier urges dialogue over homeless centre

What you
Need to
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon