Half-way house gets drug council backing

| 26/09/2014

(CNS): A local charity which is seeking to fill a major gap left by government in the support of those recovery from drug addiction has been given the backing of the National Drug Council following an evaluation of its new half-way house for women in West Bay. The Bridge Foundation which now has two half-way houses designed to help people transition in their recovery had encountered a major stumbling block when planning issued an enforcement noticeagainst the non-profit foundation over the opening of the women’s home earlier this year. Misunderstanding what the home was the, government agency had demanded a re-zoning for the property.

Earlier this month, however the central planning authority recognised that the half-way house was simply a residential home which happened to be for people recovering from alcohol and drug misuse and lifted the enforcement. Despite being noted as a critical component of recovery by the NDC half-way homes are missing from the local community. Government’s residential treatment centre, Caribbean Haven generally focuses on the second stage in drug abuse recovery but only has only limited half way house provision.

“Understanding the need for safe housing for both men and women in the Cayman Islands, The Bridge Foundation is committed to facilitating the transition of men and women from treatment programmes and other institutions successfully back into our communities,” said Bod Volinsky, the charity’s Operations Manager. “We are pleased with the decision of the Planning Authorities who visited and met with us and the subsequent removal of the enforcement which will now allow for the continuation of services at the women’s house.”

The NDC was asked by the home affairs ministry to evaluate the foundation. The government sponsored drug council pointed to the importance of the homes where the Bridge Foundation promotes sober structured living, educational opportunities, life skills development, self-determination, independence, physical and mental well-being and spiritual development.

“There is no doubt that the halfway houses established by the Bridge Foundation are critical and importantly positioned within the continuum of care for treatment and provides a safe and supportive transitional environment to individuals in need of such housing,” the NDC said in a statement released Thursday about its evaluation. “Studies and literature have continuously underpinned the need for such initiatives in the process of reintegration.”

With little or no provision in the Cayman Islands for recovering addicts, the NDC said the Bridge Foundation is currently providing the essential third step or third stage in the intervention process for those with drug dependency issues. The NDC explained that stage one is recognising the problem, stage two is completing treatment and three is returning to the community in a transitional supportive environment.

“It is recognized that transitional living is a key ingredient in any successful programme whose objectives include, reducing recidivism, criminal or drug use, promoting re-socialization and reintegration and improving prospects for employment,” the NDC said.

Highlighting several very positive findings about the charity the NDC said the operations and confidentiality conformed to acceptable standards. It has set residency guidelines and expectations. Clients must be drug and alcohol free and subjected to random drug and alcohol testing at any time, with or without cause; and residents must attend weekly house meetings and be employed or actively seeking employment.

The operations and books are open for scrutiny and the programme is transparent about its aims that nobody should profit from its activities, and interested parties are entitled to see, and if necessary have explained to them the financial details of its income and expenditure.
Despite many strengths the foundation is facing several challenges, the NDC evaluation report found from sustaining the food voucher component of the programme to prejudices which are complicating its service provision.

“We know from the data that many of our offenders have a history of drug and alcohol related offences,” the NDC said. In addition, over 75% of offenders are Caymanian or have Caymanian Status that signals a return back into communities in the Cayman Islands. We must therefore accept and ensure that we are seeking to provide a continuum of care and services that are going to support the transition back to community and reduce re-offending.”

For more information on the Bridge Foundation, contact us by phone (345) 926-4053 and email thebridgefoundationcayman@gmail.com

See full conclusion of NDC evaluation below

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Comments (8)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I applaud those who have begun what we all hope will be an institution that will help those who have found themselves addicted to illegal substances, and hopefully will be changed to a point where they are, "as they say" CLEAN. I really do hope that it will be successful. But as one who over the years, has seen the people of this island conned into believing and trusting some people, who pop up out of the wood work claiming that they are going to save us from ourselves, only to walk away with thousands of hard earned dollars donated by caring people on this Island.

    Remember Canaan Land in North Side? Which now sits derelict in after costing hundreds of thousands of CI dollars! Remember the foreign national that was brought in to run the place? Remember how he was picked up and arrested by the police for being involved with drugs? Let us be careful! 

    I for most of my life has been a person that gave others the benefit of the doubt, but here of late I have become "VERY" skeptical of a lot of these so called charitable organizations, who constantly beg us for funds we hope will be used for what are very needed services in the community. But there's such an awful track record when it comes to transparency through publication of details and explanations of where and how the funds collected were spent that my skepticism remains!  

    Let us give some examples!

    Cat Boat Club: Foreign national. Walked away with funds collected.

    Church Building: Foreign national Pastor and Treasurer. Walked away leaving the members owing Hundreds of Thousands which were thought to have been paid.

    Home for the elderly: Foreign national. Walked away with tens of thousands of CI dollars.

     And the sad thing is , that in none of these "no-one" went to court or jail. These are just a few samples of what has happened and is still happening here in our islands. What I would like to see is: That all such charities keep records that must account for every penny spent and  books must be audited annually by an unbiased accounting firm or the Auditor General!

    Lastly: Since this Halfway House is so close to, and has direct access to the North Sound, I would hope the there will be CCTVs strategically placed [that work] and that will monitor the compound and surrounding area. Monitoring Must Be Done. Otherwise before long, there is the possibility we'll be referring to it not as a safe haven, but as something else. I say this because ninety percent of all drug smuggling in cayman is done through the North Sound.

    So I pray that the Bridge Foundation is what it says it is, and that none of what I mentioned above will occur there. And hopefully one day it will be such a success that we'll look back at the many young people whose lives were rescued, and thank them for their good work! 

  2. Anonymous says:

    Would you mind if you lived in this neighborhood and 'suspicious' looking people drove down your road as your kids were playing outside? Unless you don't have kids?! Don't disagree with the concept and that this is very much needed on ourisland …just disagree with where it is.   The Bridge Foundation need to also consider monitoring of the program to test compliance with what it stands for.  These people have made it halfway but they are not totally in the 'safe zone'.  It wouldn't appear to be the case when people that were supposedly drug dealers are allowed to visit the premises – so I have been told.  There needs to be some control.  Otherwise the people of this neigborhood – who are not ignorant – will be 'fighting' this.  With like all people, we need to SEE that they have not only considered the safety of those that are in the halfway house but the neighborhood as a whole. Thanks

  3. Anonymous says:

    Bravo to the Bridge Foundation and their donors!  Good to see somebody "gets it".  There has been no convincing rehabilitation for these people and their families for decades.  This missing apparatus has sustained high relapse/recidivism rates and contributed to the root of the deeply engrained social ills we ignore at our peril.  Would be great to see more of this from the people we elected as "socially conscious experts", and from private donors.  There really is no hope for these drug den neighbourhoods without some direction on alternate ways of living, a different value system, and hope that some dignity might be restored.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I support the work of the Bridge Foundation and applaud the National Drug Councel for their support of the halfway houses.

    A safe environent way from negative influences is importan in early recovery.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Those small minded NIMBYS that complained about this wonderful establishment should be ashamed of themselves.  I bet they call themselves Christians too.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not exactly…..

      • Anonymous says:

        The reference was to the complainers not the occupants, but I suspect your comment belies you prejudice about the great things that are happening there.

        • Anonymous says:

          My reference was to the complainers and I reiterate, hardly. But I suspect you you struggled in school.