Linking UP together in Kingston JA

30/03/2021 – “I want to support the people we work with to overcome the stigma that is usually associated with persons from communities affected by violence.” – Karen McGlashin

Bringing partners together to increase awareness of human rights and strengthen the relationship between security forces and community members is how Fight for Peace supports young people under its Link UP project in Kingston.

Link UP is funded by the European Union and is part of the UP Unity & Peace programme that Fight for Peace coordinates in six communities in Jamaica. The programme includes life skills training and walkshops, and mediation services provided by implementing partners RISE Life Management and the Peace Management Initiative (PMI).

RISE Life Management hosts personal development sessions and walkshops and the PMI, through their violence interrupters,  refer participants to the Fight for Peace psychology team – psychologist John-Earle Spence, and social worker Karen McGlashin – for counselling and monitoring.

Due to continue until October 2021, Link UP is run in Denham Town, a community which is currently under a Zone of Special Operations (ZOSO) by joint security and military forces. Programme activities include a women’s event scheduled for April, a community and security forces’ owned and maintained garden, sports sessions and the implementation of four sub-grants by community based organisations.

By entering the project, young people gain access to educational resources, skills training, psycho-social support and funding opportunities to purchase equipment to start their own businesses.

Due to Covid-19, check-ins with young people and needs’ assessments are done via telephone, but the relationships established remain strong. With 28 young people referred to various intervention services since August 2020, their day to day progress shows how working together gets the job done.

Social interventions are meant to break a cycle of violence. We work with the individual, their family and through schools and the police. We want them to believe in themselves to achieve,” explains John-Earle.

“We work together and find out who needs what. RISE offers self-help, human rights awareness training and addiction counselling, and PMI helps change perspectives of violence. They want to be somebody, have money and have a car. As a social worker I give them another perspective. Being in the programme allows them to participate in a holistic approach,” adds Karen.

And this is exactly what the UP Unity and Peace programme is all about, working collaboratively to ensure that young people in our communities get the best support and make the best choices for their future.