Reaching out to the children of Jamaica who are victims of abuse by Roger Panton

The Ellen Pearl Outreach Children’s Charity (EPOCC) is a UK-based charity, launched in October 2015. The aim of the charity is to provide a national free 24-hour ChildLine service in Jamaica, manned by fully trained counsellors to listen to children who currently have no one to talk to about the abuses they are suffering.

The Jamaican branch of EPOCC was launched in May 2016 in Montego Bay, where the keynote speaker was Mrs Juliet Holness MP, wife of Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

In the changing face of the world, we know that children are our future, and what better way to outreach to the children of Jamaica than to listen to them. Children are said to be ‘seen and not heard’, but we must now listen and give children a means by which they can speak confidentially, non-judgementally and offer counselling and other support on any subject they may choose to discuss.

In the long term, EPOCC aims to have other provisions, including a service that provides visits to schools, youth clubs and churches to inform on abuse awareness, and to empower children to say ‘No’ and/or to report abuse.

Credit for the launch of the project must be given to Sir Patrick Allen who, at the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in June 2015, drew attention to the abuse children in Jamaica were suffering, and made a plea for national collaboration at all levels to end the abuse.

“One of the many social ills confronting the nation at this time, and threatening to undermine the very resilience for which our people are known, is the abuse of our children … I shared my concerns for the safety and security of our children and young people, and call for national collaboration at all levels to end the abuse which has left so many victims in its wake.  I encourage support for community projects that would positively impact their lives and give them a brighter future.” (Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica, 6th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference 13-18 June 2015.)

It prompted Beverley Chung, EPOCC’s Founder and Chair of Trustees, to take up Sir Patrick Allen’s challenge, and she got a team of volunteers together to launch EPOCC.

Thanks to the proliferation of mobile phones in Jamaica, the ChildLine will be available island-wide via a freephone number. The children will therefore be able to make safe, secure and confidential contact with the telephone counsellors.

The project has the backing of the UK NSPCC ChildLine, and one of their first acts was to send a trainer to Jamaica in July 2016 to train the trainers of the volunteer telephone counsellors. The Jamaican trainers are then to train the telephone counsellors from their base in Montego Bay. The telephone system is being provided by the telecom company, Flow, and the project also has the support of the Jamaican Government.

EPOCC has a very capable and varied board of trustees that have experience both in the UK and in Jamaica, and has an ideal ChildLine project manager in Dr Pearnel Bell, a child psychologist.

The recruitment of the volunteers has begun, and we are pleased to say that the first group of trainees have been trained. It’s very pleasing that the Office of the Children’s Advocate sent one of their officers to address the trainees about the roles and functions of the OCA and how the project fits in with their work. Also, with modern day technology, the UK NSPCC ChildLine has continued to support the training of the telephone counsellors.

We have so far spent most of our time and expenditure on preparing the rented premises. We have installed a soundproofed area and air-conditioning, and there is an administrative office. We are awaiting the telephone booths. Our running costs will be mainly rental, administrator’s salary, on-going training, administration and security. A shipping organisation, Transpakship, has already shipped down to Montego Bay for us free of cost, and has donated office equipment and furniture.

Although based in north London, we are appealing to Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica everywhere for their support.

There are many ways that you can support us. First, it would be helpful if Jamaicans here would share the message about the EPOCC ChildLine with their grandchildren and other young relatives in Jamaica. Knowing that they have at least a small measure of support from an adult, irrespective that the person may be far away, could save many young lives from being destroyed by those who might seek to take advantage of them.

You can support us with a regular direct debit donation of just £5 – £20 per month, that would be of great help in meeting our monthly expenditure.

We also run fundraising events, the most recent one being a Curry & Quiz Night hosted by Shaun Wallace, Mastermind Champion and ‘The Chase’ quizmaster – dubbed ‘The Dark Destroyer’. Shaun gave his time free of charge, as well as providing the medals and wonderful Ellen Pearl Trophy. We’ll now be making this an annual event.

Our next scheduled event is a Salsa Dine and Dance Night on 15 October, which will commemorate our first anniversary. We’d welcome financial support and fundraising ideas, including links to celebrities in the media and public life, who we may contact for their support for the Jamaica ChildLine.

For more information about our trustees, our project and ways you can support us, please contact Mrs Beverley Chung, Founder & Chair of Trustees or Roger Panton, Vice-Chair of Trustees.

E: info@epocc.org.uk   www.epocc.org

T: 020 8360 6753

M: 07761010304

Ellen Pearl Outreach Children’s Charity (EPOCC) – Reg No1164512

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