September 25, 2020

Local Cayman charity for recovering drug addicts gets backing from NDC


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Half way House caymanFrom The Cayman

Following an evaluation of The Bridge Foundation’s new half-way house in West Bay for women recovering from drug addiction has been given the backing of the National Drug Council.

The Bridge Foundation is a local charity that is seeking to fill a major gap left by government and now has two half-way houses designed to help people transition in their recovery. It had encountered a major stumbling block when planning issued an enforcement notice against 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 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 , 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 [email protected]


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