Joy Crooks cries for help for the homeless
Joy Crooks, co-founder of the Montego Bay-based Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill (CUMI), has renewed calls for the Government to do more to assist the mentally ill and homeless in St. James.
Crooks argued that the cultural tourism product in Montego Bay, particularly Sam Sharpe Square, is being impacted as visitors shy away from the area due to the numerous mentally ill and homeless persons that are often seen roaming the space.
"We portray a beautiful island with sun, sea and sand, but how do we treat the ones who have fallen below the social safety net, those less fortunate? A lot of the tourists these days come into our country, just as how the violence captures their minds, the number of homeless, the mentally ill and children roaming the streets also captures their minds,” Crooks said.
She said a few decades ago, before the influx of all-inclusive hotels, tourists could be spotted sightseeing at almost every corner in Montego Bay, with Sam Sharpe Square, being on the list of their ‘must-see-places’ due to its cultural and historical significance. This, she noted, is no longer the case.
"One of the initial times shock and outrage was felt by the business community was when a group of tourists were seen taking photographs of a mentally-ill man, who was naked and eating from the garbage one day,” she said.
Crooks said the mentally ill sometimes end up homeless and then roam the streets of Montego Bay due to their unfortunate circumstances. She said if not given the help they need, these people could pose a serious threat to others.