RADIO PERSONALITY Garth St Clair, host of the popular Eye On Dependency programme aired every Sunday on I-95 FM, recently broke new international ground for local broadcasters.
St Clair’s co-host Natasha Nunez accompanied him on the trip to London, England, where they conducted an interview with TT national Owen Alfred who was recently imprisoned there, for drug-trafficking. Alfred, who is Tobagonian, was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for drug-dealing along with Tobagonian accomplice Oswin Moore, who got a 16-year jail term.
St Clair and Nunez visited the HMP Wandsworth in London (Britain’s largest penal institution) on May 5 where they conducted a taped interview with inmate Alfred. According to St Clair, who is himself a recovering cocaine addict, the Tobagonian had more than a mouthful to share about what landed him in the UK prison. Segments of the interview were aired on the May 24 edition of the Eye On Dependency programme.
Sponsored by NADAPP, a division of the Ministry of Social Development, the hugely informative awarding-winning programme addresses the issues of drug-abuse, and its attendant societal hazards. It also seeks to open the corridors of conversation to guests (in-studio and via the phone) from various walks of life. Meaningful remedial measures for drug-users and wide-ranging drug-related matters, are continuously sought.
The prison pilgrimage to London, was a distinctive first for local broadcasting. It is a statistic about which St Clair and Nunez are justly proud.
At the FPWP (The Female Prison Welfare Project) Hibiscus Foundation, St Clair met and interviewed its director Olga Heaven MBE at her office located in the central London borough of Islington. This organisation was behind the largely effective and successful regional Eva Goes To Foreign education and poster campaign. The campaign was specifically designed to discourage women from becoming drug couriers.
St Clair says Heaven revealed that as a consequence of the Eva Goes To Foreign campaign, “there has been a perceptible decline in women from Trinidad & Tobago being arrested for drug-trafficking in the UK”.
The duo also embraced an opportunity while at the Hibiscus Foundation, to interview a Jamaican woman referred to only as Norma. Norma, who served a six-year sentence in a UK prison for being a drug courier, is now an employee of the Hibiscus Foundation.
Reflecting on their ground-breaking UK prison-interviews sojourn, St Clair and Nunez expressed their gratitude to a number of people who made their trip successful.
Included on their extended “Thank You” list are Olga Heaven and Malcolm Lewis (a deputy Governor at the Wandsworth Prison), and Andre Baptiste of Toyota Trinidad & Tobago Ltd, the Ministry of National Security, the Embassy of the United States of America and Constellation Travel.
St Clair said plans are being put in place for another UK trip. This time his eyes will be on women who have landed in British prisons, because of their dependency on drugs, or their hoped-for dependency on the irresistibly large sums of money promised to drug-mules.