SVL Foundation donates $40m to boost for fire safety in state homes
Floyd Green (second left) , then Junior Minister for Youth and Education (second left) and Peter McConnell, a Supreme Ventures board member at the MoU signing. (Photo: Marlon Reid)
Supreme Ventures Foundation has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information to improve fire safety and security in 30 children’s homes across the island.
The MoU sees Supreme Ventures Foundation donating $40 million to fund the training of wards and administrators on what to do in the event a fire occurs.
Several stakeholders including the Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA), the Jamaica Fire Brigade and the Office of the Children’s Advocate were on hand for the MoU signing at York Park Fire Station earlier this week.
Supreme Ventures Foundation/MoE signing
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Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Floyd Green said the government was unable to fully fund the undertaking as it was handicapped by financial constraints. But, with the MOU, the state can now acquire the necessary equipment needed to secure the facilities.
He said the move, is part of the government’s plan to ensure that children in state care are afforded a better life during their stay.
Citing the fire at the Walker’s Place of Safety, which killed two children last year, Green said had it not been for training and drills before the incident, the case would have been more detrimental.
“We have reached that significant point where I think we can safely say that all our homes have at least the basic fire prevention mechanism and fire extinguishers, things of that nature, but when we looked at Walker’s and looked across our system we said there is more that can be done.”
He said from the deal, special attention will be given to homes with very young children and special needs, who are the most vulnerable.
Supreme Ventures Foundation’s Director Heather Goldson, said the charity arm of the gambling entity wanted to help to protect children in state care, an area that it is believed that a difference can be made.
“The agreement between the foundation and the ministry is an effort to protect and support at-risk youths, by addressing the fundamental child welfare issues and concerns affecting this vulnerable group,” she said.
“This project in scope is going to cover basic fire safety and training for the homes that we have established are the most in need. We have over 50 homes across the island and our objective is to make sure that we look at the homes that are more in needs and with the help of the Jamaica Fire Brigade, implement basic fire safety, not only from a perspective of equipment but also from the perspective of training. This will make sure that if a fire happens, everybody knows what to do. The rules are clear,” Goldson said.
Children’s Advocate of Jamaica Diahann Gordon-Harrison said SVF’s corporate social responsibility initiative comes at a time when the island’s children are facing a serious problem of lack of fire safety, both in state care and at their regular homes, noting that 97 children have perished in fires over the last 10 year.
Julian Davis-Buckley, Chief Fire Prevention Officer, Jamaica Fire Brigade, said the partnership between her entity and the CPFSA is ongoing, with fire drills being conducted in children’s home regularly.
The fire at Walker’s Place of Safety last year, was the latest in children’s state homes being destroyed by fire. The Clifton Boys’ Home was gutted in 2017 and Wortley Home For Girls in 2015.