Kemar Saffrey, President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH).
BAEH Shelter now open 24 hours to assist the homeless during COVID-19 pandemic
The homeless shelter of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH) will now be open 24 hours a day, rather than simply at night, to give persons in the homeless community a place to stay as the country continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kemar Saffrey, President of the Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH), recently acknow-ledged the above, as he gave an update on the organisation’s plans going forward with regard to the pandemic. He told the Barbados Advocate that whereas the shelter officially started to take in the homeless at night since January 2020, given the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision was made to allow them to have access for 24 hours to give them a safe harbor, to reduce their likelihood of potential interactions that may give them a greater chance of catching the virus.
“I just want to let Barbadians know that the shelter was open from the 13th of January, because a lot of people think that we have now opened because of COVID, but the shelter was always open and whilst you had between
6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to get in the shelter and you would leave at 8 a.m. in the morning and then we have the breakfast at 9 a.m., we here have turned the shelter into a 24-hour one, because we want people to stay off the streets and come into the shelter, which would allow for less interaction with the general public,” Saffrey pointed out.
He added, “I know at this time people may feel that this is the time to give to the homeless, but you may actually be exposing them to more harm than good. So we had to find interesting ways of protecting ourselves, by saying who wants to stay, stay for the two weeks, whilst the curfew is enforced.”
To date, he says, there has been a spike in the number of persons coming to the shelter given the change and the BAEH sees at least four to five new homeless persons each night.
Acknowledging the need for the staff of the BAEH to stay safe, Saffrey says a number of regulations are in place to protect all at the shelter, including temperature checks and the provision of a room for confinement, if anyone does show symptoms linked to COVID-19, until the relevant health authorities are able to arrive and do what is necessary. Staff members also sanitise the hands of those entering and they have access to protective equipment, to safeguard themselves.
In the meantime, Saffrey says the BAEH stands in need of a greater level of cash flow to assist at this point in time, given the increasing numbers, the increasing catering bill and need for security and the like. For those wishing to assist in any way, they can make contact with the BAEH at telephone number 538-2480 or mobile number 230-7291 or they can e-mail email@example.com.