Flow Foundation connects children to a safe spot, supportTuesday, June 01, 2021
Jamaican children will benefit from a national helpline which will connect them to help as they deal with the pandemic. The dedicated toll-free line – 888-SAFE-SPOT (888-723-3776) – will be available 24 hours daily, 7 days per week and is staffed by intake officers, counsellors and counselling psychologists. The service will cater to all children (that is, anyone under the age of 18 years) providing support for issues ranging from depression to acts of abuse.
The line was established through a partnership with the Flow Foundation, the Office of the Children's Advocate (OCA), the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and UNICEF and has been fully endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MoEYI).
Speaking at the launch event, Diahann Gordon Harrison, Children's Advocate, shared the urgent need for the facility in light of the increased threats and trauma being experienced by the nation's children since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In expressing her appreciation, she stated: “We are extremely grateful for the provision of the toll-free line which is a critical component of this initiative and a vital resource for providing a safety net for our children.” Children will also be able to use SMS text messages, email, WhatsApp and social media in communicating with the helpline.
Kayon Mitchell, Executive Director, Flow Foundation, stated that the helpline was a true example of public-private partnerships working for Jamaica's children. Acknowledging that the period leading to adulthood is a challenging time for children and that the pandemic has further contributed to the uncertainty experienced at this stage, she said, “A key part of our work at the Flow Foundation is using technology to empower Jamaicans – young and old. The National Helpline for Children is a significant step in the right direction in making a difference in lives of our nation's children.” The helpline, which was launched during child month, is free of cost across Flow's entire network.
The toll-free line joins the Flow Foundation's suite of activities aimed at enabling progress through digital inclusion. Those specifically related to children include, but is not limited to, the provision of free internet service to over 220 primary schools across the country, the donation of tablets to scores of children, and initiatives such as Safer Internet Week which promote online safety.