Inspection challenges claims of deplorable conditions at Drop-In Centre

An inspection of the Drop-In Centre on Hadfield Street has contradicted the concerns raised by a volunteer about the conditions of the centre.

Following a report, titled “Deplorable conditions, poor care at Drop-in Centre,” published in the Tuesday edition of Stabroek News, care centres manager Melissa Gentle decided to visit the facility yesterday morning and conducted an inspection that disproved the claims of the volunteer.

Gentle subsequently told reporters that during her visit she noticed that the conditions listed by the volunteer were proved to be false. She noted that the centre is indeed not in a perfect condition presently due to the ongoing cleaning for the Christmas holiday.

The kitchen area of the Drop-In Centre
The kitchen area of the Drop-In Centre

The volunteer, who was not named, had told Stabroek News of deplorable conditions and subpar care at the facility. Among the conditions mentioned by her were pest infestations, especially that of roaches, flooding and inadequate counselling.

Gentle said although there may be a few small roaches about the building, which was only sprayed last month, it would not be true to say there is an infestation. She noted that the spraying is conducted on a monthly basis.

Goods being stored at the centre for use
Goods being stored at the centre for use

She also said that they are on-site counselors who provide the children with the necessary counselling needed three times every week.

When this newspaper visited the centre yesterday, there were no signs of any of the conditions listed but it appeared that some thorough cleaning was done early yesterday morning.

The Drop-In Centre started in 1999 in a building aback of the Sacred Heart Church on Main Street. It was not meant to be a residential facility. Its purpose then was to allow street children to ‘drop in’ for a hot meal, counselling and skills training, with the aim of earning their trust and eventually getting them off the streets. It was later moved to its current location at Hadfield Street.

Apart from the deteriorating physical infrastructure of the facility, the volunteer said that the treatment of children at the centre needed to be addressed. “The kids need proper counselling. They all went through traumatic experiences and they need special care. They are not normal kids and you can’t treat them the same way you would treat normal kids,” she said, while noting that often there would be loud verbal exchanges between the children of the centre and the staff. “They are not angels. They will push back and what’s not, but you can’t let it get to you and push back even harder,” she said.

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