Some 30 Barbadian families have been selected to participate in the I.S.E.E. Bridge Programme, a project designed to empower vulnerable families within society.

Through four critical areas of intervention: Identification, Stabilization, Enablement and Empowerment, hence the acronym I.S.E.E., the programme seeks to reduce poverty at the household level by transforming the lives of vulnerable households from a state of dependency to empowerment.

The programme was officially launched, last Saturday night, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, by Acting Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Senator Patrick Todd.

Explaining the purpose of the programme, Senator Todd noted that ???We were seeking to not merely give people a handout, but a hand-up where they can lift themselves by the proverbial bootstrap and become empowered to be productive citizens of our country.???

The I.S.E.E. Bridge Programme is designed to provide psychosocial support to the members of each household, through an assigned officer over a two-year period. Adapted from the Chilean Puente Programme, it was previously launched as a pilot programme in July 2011, with assistance from the Organisation of American States.

The pilot programme ran from September 2012 to November 2014 with a total of 247 members participating from 30 households. The second phase of the programme will comprise 194 household members, also from 30 households across Barbados.

The Acting Minister explained that several changes have been implemented to improve the programme, namely, the addition of full-time household facilitators and supervisors and the introduction of a working committee to augment the work of the oversight committee. These along with the introduction of a small monthly grant which family members could access through the issue of an Automatic Teller Machine card.

While addressing the audience gathered, the Senator expressed his gratitude to the families present and gave the assurance that more help was on the way.

???We???re very happy to see your tremendous interest demonstrated by your presence here???there are others in Barbados in similar circumstances to yours, however in view of the limited resources available only 30 families could be accommodated at this juncture. Nevertheless, we are not turning a blind eye to those families not selected,??? he stated.

Senator Todd explained that with assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank, beginning in 2017, 250 households would also stand to benefit from psychosocial support over a four-year period.

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