|Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett|
Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, is "highly optimistic" that through the continued efforts of agencies such as the Community Development Department (CDD), Barbadian communities will overcome the current social and economic difficulties.
This was underscored as Minister Blackett delivered the feature address at an appreciation awards ceremony for the staff of the CDD, which was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, last evening.
The Minister pointed out that the Department, currently celebrating its 41st anniversary, was established to "enhance the development of existing communities… to bolster community life and expression, to alleviate poverty and to engender a sense of community oneness among Barbadians".
"There has always been a great demand for community services; this is no exception today.?? We are at a juncture where the social ills loom larger than before, threatening social progress, stability and order…The Community Development Department has responded by enhancing its programmes aimed at training and equipping individuals with skills that can be used to empower themselves," Mr. Blackett said.
He listed the Community Dance Fest; the Community Arts Programme; the Community Impact Programme; the various local conferences, workshops, Christmas celebrations and children’s programmes, as some of the initiatives undertaken by the CDD to build social cohesion.
Mr. Blackett added that there would be greater collaboration between the CDD and other departments within his Ministry, such as the Department of Constituency Empowerment, and to some extent, the Welfare Department, to further empower individuals and communities. He also noted that "the thrust will be to use the empirical evidence that is garnered from the Survey of Living Conditions, and the Participatory Poverty Assessment of the Country Assessment of Living Conditions (CALC) carried out in 2010.
"Building upon the platform of the already existing programmes…[the] information provided in the final CALC report will form the basis for the implementation of a more targeted approach in the area of community development that will provide a more accurate platform upon which the issues constraining community vibrancy can be identified, assessed and addressed," the Social Care Minister stated.??
He also alluded to the development of a database of community based, faith based and non-governmental organisations, and asserted that there would be a "renewed emphasis on engaging with the non-governmental sectors within communities with the aim of stimulating and encouraging greater vibrancy in their interaction with the communities".
"The current financial crisis has caused contractions in all areas including community vibrancy and liveliness.?? There is need for us to utilise the avenues that we have to enhance community life… There are assets and creative potential that exists in all communities. Many communities have locked within them the solutions to many of their own problems and priorities," Minister Blackett pointed out, adding that the CDD and the Department of Constituency Empowerment mutually had a role to play in this regard.??