Wednesday 23 October, 2019

Church where people were found caged was cut off from Gov't funding

The Arouca church where over 60 people were rescued, some from cages, was cut off from Government funding after it was found that their operations were not in keeping with proper rehabilitation standards.

Garth St Clair of Eye on Dependency, a radio programme that sheds light on drug abuse and rehab, said after complaints from senior citizens about the institution, the Ministry of Social Development did its due diligence and investigated the place.

St Clair said with Government funding cut off, the institution simply started charging people for their stay and services there. He said they charged around $3,000 a month.

“This situation has been going on for years. We had a number of complaints from senior citizens who were desperate for help and put their relatives there but they were just interested in money. We spoke to a member of that board who was adamant no one can stop using drugs. We were shocked. How can you be helping people if this is what you believe?” asked St Clair.

The church was founded by a former prison inmate.

According to the institution’s website, the pastor's mission was derived from his personal experience and socialisation with prisoners.

The website said while serving a seven-year term at the Golden Grove Prison, the pastor answered the call from God and started his ministry within the prison walls.

Upon his early release for good behaviour, the pastor set out with a renewed vigour to ensure that the work was continued, through visitation and hosting of Bible classes with his former inmates and also sought a physical location to house them when they were released from prison.

The Ministry's vision is to serve male ex-prisoners and deportees by providing safe, transitional housing developmental and rehabilitation programmes to promote healthy re-integration into society.

Asked what the public should look for when considering rehab centres for their relatives, St Clair said that there are standard operating procedures for a rehab centre. They must have counsellors, therapists and clinical psychologists, he said and it is in your right to ask for a tour of the institution and get a copy of rules, regulations and constitution.

St Clair said a meeting must be held with relatives and the person to be rehabilitated and three members of the rehab facility before the person is admitted.

He said there must be recreation rooms, sports and physical education on the curriculum and allowed visits.  He said in a rehabilitation facility there must be a detox period for two weeks. After six months, the patient is allowed to go home for a weekend and on return to the institution, they are drug tested.

St Clair said it is important to note that for someone to be rehabilitated they must acknowledge they have a problem and want to be helped.

A proper rehabilitation centre, he said, does not keep people against their will and if they have mental issues, the centre is required to send them to St Ann’s for evaluation.

Cages, he said, are not part of the process.

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