In west Kingston unemployment is thought to be around 50%. The people of the neighbourhood are among the poorest on the island. Situated in the heart of the neighbourhood, St Anne’s Church has been serving the community for nearly 100 years, working on poverty relief and social development as well as pastoral care.
Run by the Jesuits, St Anne’s is responsible for three schools — infant, primary and high — and the pastoral team is involved in the local community, with programs in education, healthcare, skills training, food distribution and parenting. The Holy Name of Jesus Church, a mission of St Anne’s, is located nearby.
Children and young people benefit from after-school activities, Brownies and Scouts, dance and sign language groups. There is a flourishing youth ministry; in fact, young people are the fastest growing segment of the parish congregation.
The care of the elderly is given prime importance; it is an acute need in Jamaica, exceeding the capacity of nationally funded services, so that many face poverty and virtual homelessness. Food packages and other essential items are distributed to elderly people on a regular basis and a training program for caregivers was recently established.
After Hurricane Dean struck in late 2007, the parish built an entire “village” for elderly members of St Anne’s Church, who wished to maintain their independence but needed adequate housing and support.
A social analysis group gathers members of the community weekly to discuss the impact of social and economic policies.