Categorized | National News

Reach-Out To Expand To Urban Renewal

Scores of young boys from Grand Bahama got an eye opening experience recently as they visited Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) and the Simpson Penn Centre for Boys.

It’s all a part of the Reach-Out Ministries programme in Grand Bahama.

Coordinator of the programme Dudley Saint said he started the programme five years ago to help police stop crime.

“The reason why I brought some guys over from Grand Bahama is because of the high level of crime. We wanted the young men to see prison up close and personal so that the young men don’t make wrong decisions. I think this should be a national programme. Every young man that finds himself getting in problems in The Bahamas should come and visit Simpson Penn and Her Majesty’s Prisons,” he said.

“This week was an eye-opener for these young men.”

Mr. Saint said Reach-Out partners with police in Grand Bahama.

He is hoping the programme will start a relationship with Urban Renewal 2.0.

“We normally deal with afterschool programmes, a feeding programme and a community centre. A lot of young people see it as a place of refuge. The court system uses us as an alternative to prison. So we are doing a lot of work in Grand Bahama,” he said.

“Instead of complaining, we see our organisation as a solution. It is a safety net for young persons. Some persons don’t want to go to church but they would come to us. Some young men who have committed murder – we had about three young men who were running from the police – and they came to us for refuge and we eventually turned them in. So because we do so much the young men in Grand Bahama trust us.”

Lawford Seymour, 19, has been in the programme for the past five years.

He talked about how the programme changed his life.

“This programme has helped me a lot because I was in trouble in school, gangbanging. I have never been in the police station before but I have been in the principal’s office various times. Mr. Saint really helped me like a father,” he said.

Mr. Seymour also talked about his experience at Her Majesty’s Prison, where he encountered a relative, who is prolific offender.

“I saw my older cousin who was like a role model to me but a bad influence. People stool in a bucket and they have to inhale that 24/7. You have eight people lying on the floor on top of each other. It’s no place to be. I just want to tell people in Freeport that it is no place to be,” he said.

Elton Farrington said the programme taught him to be a leader.

“You have to learn from people’s mistakes and you have to listen to those who have a positive impact on your life. It also taught me to take school seriously,” the 17-year-old said.

The young men also visited Police Headquarters and were shown a squad demonstration along with police dogs.

Superintendent of Police Stephen Dean, who is also in charge of the Urban Renewal 2.0, said the Royal Bahamas Police Force endorses Reach-Out and is currently in discussions to integrate the programme with Urban Renewal.

“The testimonies of these young men are on target with what we are all about – positive engagement for our young people. I think great things are going to come from this programme,” he said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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