Wards at the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home are set to benefit from a new woodworking training centre, located on the grounds of the Walderston, Manchester-based facility.
Director of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home, Kimberley Elliot-Williamson, is focused on developing skills training programmes for wards at the private residential facility that will prepare them to transition into society when they leave.
Speaking with the Jamaica Information Service, Elliot-Williams said, “We want every child leaving here to, at least, be literate to a level where they are able to do basic reading and writing. Not everybody will be academically inclined or will be able to go to a college or university. But, at least, they would have done some skills training in one area or the other, so they can be a little bit more viable.”
Against this backdrop, the home is currently training instructors, in collaboration with the Sandals Foundation, which donated the centre.
“Once it is finalised, then we are hoping to have some boys participate and be a part of the programme,” Elliot-Williamson said.
The centre will also benefit members of surrounding communities who are interested in learning woodwork and gaining certification through the HEART/NSTA Trust.
Elliot-Williamson indicated that the home will also look to capitalise on the recently announced removal of fees for HEART/NSTA Trust programmes up to level four.
“More of the residents can be enrolled in their desired programmes, which will help them to achieve the skills and training they require to enhance their quality of life. We will be capitalising on this by enrolling all of our boys who are desirous of doing skills training and are experiencing great challenges functioning in the formal school system,” the director said.
Elliot-Williamson shared that, as a new administrator of the home, conducting a needs assessment was among the first engagements she undertook, in the process of charting a way forward for the boys and members of staff.
She said some of the 33 boys living at the facility shared their feelings of apprehension and uncertainty about life outside the home once they reach the age of 18.
Along with the skills training programmes, the home will draw on the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) Transitional Living Programme (TLP) to prepare the boys for the milestone and help reduce feelings of anxiety.
The TLP provides funding for tuition, housing, and a monthly stipend to each resident in the programme.
Elliot-Williamson welcomed partnerships forged in other areas to ensure the holistic development of the boys.
“We have a mentorship programme that we are currently restructuring, to evoke and maximise the potential and personal development of the residents. For that, we welcome whatever additional support we can get,” she said.
Elliot-Williamson said she is also exploring capacity-building for her staff at the Home, through empowerment and leadership training.
The Mount Olivet Boys’ Home is a private residential home that is owned by the United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.