Family Healing Programme Secures Major Grant

The Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) approved a grant of $32,800 to support the conduct of a Bahamian Forum family healing initiative led by Bahamian psychiatrist Dr David F. Allen.

"The Family: People Helping People", is a yearlong programme created by Dr Allen, using faith-based interventions to help stem the tide of anger and violence that is taking a serious toll on Bahamian society, particularly in terms of the growing murder rate.

"The core question we seek to answer is: What is necessary to improve socialization in the Bahamian community?" Dr Allen said. "We will do this by expanding the main work of the existing programme, by increasing outreach and community interaction, and by setting up professional tracking and monitoring systems of our work."

The purpose of programme is to provide a safe, secure environment where group members can begin to heal their broken relationships with their family and community. The primary goal is to improve socialisation in light of burgeoning rates of crime, family disintegration, and economic impoverishment. The particular problems addressed are anger management, conflict resolution, low self-esteem, lack of forgiveness, and parent education.

Led by professionals, therapeutic interventions are closely matched to the specific problems with which participants present, and are offered entirely free of charge. The interventions provide for socialisation, interpersonal skills, self-esteem enhancement, anger management and conflict resolution, revenge elimination, community bonding, affective learning, and the development of mature spirituality.

Utilizing the church (through use of the buildings and support from pastors), government (from volunteer staff from Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and the Ministry of Education), and volunteers from the community, the programme also seeks to train volunteers in facilitating group process and mental health education.

The Family is currently run on a volunteer basis, and has been financed by Dr Allen personally. His proposal to TWCF confirmed that this would continue. The funds from the Foundation will be used to expand the activities of The Family by hiring new administrative and therapeutic staff, paying for media outreach and a conference, and rigorously analyzing the effects of the work.

Dr Allen's successes in a variety of faith-based community interventions factored strongly in the decision of Templeton World Charity Foundation in the award of the recent grant.

Betty Roberts, TWCF president explained the goals of the Foundation and how The Family project fits into the philosophy of the organisation: "Sir John Templeton was interested in the role of spirituality in health and medicine, and how it can transform people to take control of their lives in a positive way. The Family Project resonates with this interest area. It is the embryo of a much wider research project envisaged by Dr. Allen on the 'Re-socialization of Bahamian Society'. The relationship between character development and the wider society is one of the core funding areas of the Foundation, supporting projects that ask how character is formed, and how institutions and social structures contribute to character development," said Mrs. Roberts.

Professor Andrew Briggs, of the University of Oxford, who visits Nassau regularly in connection with TWCF, has taken a close interest in the work of Dr Allen.

Professor Briggs said: "I have seen the work of The Family at first hand, and I am immensely impressed by the combination of professional expertise and loving understanding which Dr Allen and his team show. This is some of the finest work that I have seen in the Bahamas, and I believe it is meeting one of the deepest needs. I am hopeful that colleagues at Oxford may be able to help with evidence-based analysis of the effectiveness of the programme."

A further $10,000 has also been committed by TWCF to Dr Allen and the Bahamian Forum as a planning grant to assist with the development of the wider research project on the Question: "What is necessary to improve socialization in the Bahamian community?"

This newest grant follows closely on TWCF's significant donation to the Pompey Museum's rebirth. A Templeton grant in the amount of $380,000, to be disbursed over a two-year period, is earmarked to assist with the creation of a new exhibition "Struggle to be Free" for the museum and boosting the institution's education programme.


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