Major Templeton Grant to Aid Family Healing Programme

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Pictured at the presentation of the grant to Dr Allen: from left: Marie Souder, First Trust Bank Ltd; Betty A. Roberts, CEO, First Trust Bank Ltd; Dr David Allen; his wife, Dr Victoria Allen.

Nassau, Bahamas – The Templeton World Charity Foundation (TWCF) founded by the late financier and philanthropist, Sir John Templeton, has just approved a grant of $32,800 to support the conduct of a family healing initiative led by a distinguished Bahamian psychiatrist under the umbrella of Bahamian Forum.

The newest TWCF grant, entitled “The Family: People Helping People”, is a yearlong programme, which is the brainchild of noted psychiatrist Dr David F. Allen. Supported by a highly qualified team of professionals who include his wife Dr Victoria Allen, Dr Allen’s goal is to investigate causes and contribute, through faith-based interventions, to stemming 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 The Family: People Helping People, as described by Dr Allen, 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 socialization 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 the professionals, therapeutic interventionsare closely matched to the specific problems with which participants present, and are offered entirely free of charge. They provide for socialization, 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 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. A Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association since 2008, Dr David Allen’s professional career in psychiatry is distinguished by many achievements. He founded the Haven treatment programmes in Nassau and Washington, D.C., and “The Family: People Helping People” groups. Dr. Allen developed a faith -based psychotherapy discussed in four books(In Search of the Heart, Shattering the God’s Within, Contemplation, Shame). He personifies the “visionary entrepreneur” (Possibilities, by Sir John Templeton, pp. 11, 43-44).which the TWCF wishes to encourage. In the 1980s, Dr Allen provided community therapy groups at the Princess Margaret Hospital for persons addicted to cocaine. Out of this work came a scientific study published in The Lancet (June 1986). Dr. Allen was also awarded the Bennet Commonwealth Award of the Royal Society of Arts, London, for his work in cocaine addiction.

Dr. David Allen studied medicine at St. Andrew’s University Medical School in Scotland, and Psychiatry and Public Health at Harvard Medical School where he was a Kennedy Fellow. He did further work in religion, psychiatry and ethics at Harvard Divinity School. Since then, Dr. Allen has taught psychiatry and religion at Harvard, Yale and Georgetown Medical School.His work encourages people, as Dr Allen explains,“to overcome their passivity and fatalism to discover the love of God and their fellow man.”

Betty Roberts, President of Templeton World Charity Foundation, explained the goals of the Foundation and how The Family Project fits into the philosophy of the organization.

“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 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 Templeton World Charity Foundation, has taken a close interest in the work of Dr Allen. Professor Briggs commented, “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 museum and boosting the institution’s education programme.

“The Templeton World Charitable Foundation is one of three Foundations organized by the late Sir John Templeton to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries related to the Big Questions of Human Purpose and Ultimate Reality.  Unsolicited Grant Requests are not accepted by the Foundation.”