The construction of the new Sophia Drop-In Centre at Block ‘C’ Sophia is expected to be completed within weeks and will serve as a housing facility for vulnerable children and even young adults, according to Social Protection Minister Amna Ally.
Ally on Saturday told the media that more than $150M has been invested into this project and that it is going to be a secure facility where the needs and safety of children housed there are put on the front burner.
“The construction is almost completed. As a matter of fact, we are hoping that by the end of this month we are going to be able to conclude the entire building, have the amenities put in, have our staff properly recruited and be prepared for an opening ceremony. I don’t know if we are going to be able to have an opening ceremony this month end because this is a month packed with activities. So if not this month end, it will be early in April, but it near in completion,” she said.
According to the Minister, this facility is much needed to ensure that disadvantaged children in the public system are provided for and taken care of in a conducive environment.
“I don’t want to categorise the various kinds of people but um, young underprivileged youths, and in some cases, there will have to have the protection of adults with them at the centre. It’s quite a lot because a lot of facilities are being put into that centre. As you know, it was as of result of the fire that we had in the Hadfield Street office, the drop in the centre rather, so we decided that we are going to put up a building exclusively for that purpose.”
When asked if this new multi-million-dollar facility will be replacing some of the other homes that are already in existence the Minister stated that this would not be the case.
“We are not in a position to close homes, because what we have, we have the night shelter, we have the other shelters that deal with various kinds of people but specifically this will be dealing with youths. We also have the one at Mahaica so we are not going to close any,” she added.
In July 2016, a fire destroyed the entire top flat of the centre’s Hadfield Street, Georgetown location and claimed the lives of Antonio and Joshua George, aged two and six. The preliminary report on the fire had found that the centre had systematic problems and bad
policy arrangements for any occurrence of a fire or similar emergency.