Anti-drug organisations ‘working hard’ — Dunkley
Bermuda's anti-drug organisations are working hard despite a cut in Government grants, according to Premier Michael Dunkley.
Speaking in the House of Assembly this morning, Mr Dunkley said that in the past fiscal year the Department for National Drug Control (DNDC) dispersed $667,000 in grants to several drug programmes including those implemented by PRIDE, CADA, FOCUS, along with the Salvation Army's Harbour Light programme and Community Life Skills programme.
While the grants offered to the drug programmes have remained steady over the past two years, he noted they had been cut “significantly” during the previous three years.
Despite some financial difficulties, he said all of the organisations had made ”efficient use of resources” and their output has, for the most part, remained consistent with expectations.
“There were some operational challenges resulting from reduced funding for all agencies,” the Premier said. “Prevention and treatment agencies struggled to provide the needed services within the community and have indicated exhaustive efforts to secure non-governmental funding without great success.
“Of great concern, and continuing since the previous year, was Harbour Light's inability to conduct LifeSkills day classes and to hold evening classes. This is the second year that this component of programming has not been delivered due to staffing challenges resulting from reduced funding.”
He said that the department had been challenged with finding creative ways to maintain the important services, and that efforts have been made to share resources where possible.
“The DNDC has consistently tried to place greater emphasis and priority on funding programme services and projects as opposed to administrative salaries and/or supplies, however, programmes require persons to actually facilitate their implementation,” he said. “This creates a dilemma especially with funding being consistently reduced.
“The DNDC already has identified the critical programme components for each agency and directs the available funding only to those components, however, the majority of the grants support the staffing to do the work.
“Drug prevention and treatment are areas where public/private support has been successful in the past in Bermuda. Charities received funding from both private and public sources to operate. Unfortunately, financial support has diminished from both sectors over the past five years.”
He encouraged the public and private sectors to work together to maintain the services, stressing that drug misuse and abuse impact the entire community.