The Custos of Manchester has initiated several intervention and outreach programmes to help students remain in school; establish a counselling helpline, and to offer help in crime prevention.
Custos Garfield Green explained that he wants to ensure that, where possible, resources are pooled for the prevention of social ills in the parish, help in the maintenance of police stations, and to ensure that the education of children is not disrupted due to financial challenges faced by parents.
He related to JIS News, recently, a 13-year-old male student was out of school for a few months, his office got the information, and they moved quickly to ascertain the reasons behind the child not attending school and got him placed in a high school in the parish.
Students in School programme
“The ‘Students in School Initiative’ is intended to assist children in whatever way necessary. It might be that they don’t have lunch, and there may be transport and uniform issues. We try to meet the needs, so that they get into school and they stay in school,” Custos Green said.
Part of the programme, Green continued, is to get students to be more involved in community and civic activities, thereby instilling in them, from an early age, civic pride, and to help lessen the spread of anti-social cultures.
Another of the initiatives is the Counselling Helpline to prevent domestic violence and ease the burden faced by persons who experience trying situations as well as those who need mediators to resolve conflicts.
Persons needing the service can telephone (876) 579-7112.
“We offer the services through the police, in the schools, and in the communities. If the police have a case working on and they were to see the need for mediation or counselling, then we will provide a mediator or a counsellor to help,” he added.
He pointed out that while the outreach programme is managed by the ‘Friends’ of the Custos, and his office coordinates calls from persons who need the services, they ensure that trained professionals handle the cases, and no file is created on the individuals being helped, because they operate under strict confidentiality.
“After the initial call, we find a counsellor for you, or the mediator, then it is between you and them. These persons are professionals that we have on board. They are trained and certified,” the custos assured, adding that the services will be expanded shortly, as more reputable persons want to offer their time and skills.
“It will not be open to everyone to offer the service; you have to possess some level of training in that professional area,” Green said, underscoring that “once we put persons on to them, the only thing that we would be interested in, is that it is working.”
‘Many issues, but with purpose we can address them’
The new Custos acknowledges that there are many issues to be addressed, such as family conflicts and differences with other community members.
“Whatever is preventing anyone from achieving their God-given potential, we are here to help, and our services are through counselling, advice and mediation. We want them to call the office of the Custos. We will reach out to you, and we will help,” he told JIS News.
The custos informed that in one week they were able to raise $1.5 million, which was used to effect repairs to police vehicles in the parish.
He added that their support to the police also includes minor repairs to stations, and encouraging service providers to offer discounts on items for the work of the lawmen.
Green was sworn into office as Custos of Manchester in September. He is a well-known figure in the business community of central Jamaica, and served as President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce for three years, prior to his appointment as Custos of the parish.
As Custos of Manchester, Green is the representative of the Governor-General in the parish. As part of his responsibilities, he serves as Chief Magistrate for the parish, ensuring that there are sufficient Justices of the Peace (JPs) to serve the Lay Magistrate’s Court and communities throughout Manchester.