Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, and Halcyon Ashby-Carrington cut the ribbon to officially open the new offices of the National Disabilities Unit at “Maxwellton”, Culloden Road, St. Michael. Also pictured are President of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, Kerryann Ifill and Special Envoy for Persons with Disabilities, Roslyn Hurley. (GP)

Members of the disabled community are now better able to access the offices of the National Disabilities Unit (NDU), which has moved to “Maxwelton”, Collymore Rock, in a building specially retrofitted to meet their needs.

The building was officially opened by Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, on Wednesday during a ceremony attended by many members of the community.

Minister Forde noted that the move from its former offices at the National Union of Public Workers’ compound at Dalkeith was “a long hard struggle”, but she was happy that the social services agency was now located in facilities which ensured accessibility to all.

She commended the public officers at the NDU for the smooth transition. The new location, she noted, offered space to cater to outdoor activities and entrepreneurial fairs showcasing the work of the disabled.

It would also allow, she said, for the reactivation of the integrative summer camp programme for disabled and able-bodied children.

Meanwhile, the Minister disclosed that under the Unit’s Accessibility Programme, the demand for ramps had outgrown the numbers the NDU was able to supply. 

She attributed this to the increase in amputations in Barbados and the longevity of citizens, including the increasing number of centenarians. “Currently, there is a growing list of persons awaiting this assistance,” she shared.

Outlining other initiatives aimed at improving the lives of the disabled, Ms. Forde disclosed plans for an agricultural project at Mangrove, St. Philip, geared towards persons who were intellectually challenged.

“This programme seeks to increase the independence of these persons and their families through their ability to earn and to have a productive life in agriculture,” she said.

Other initiatives include a flower project aimed at creating more opportunities for employment through teaching the disabled a marketable skill; and in terms of recreation, providing opportunities for the disabled to enjoy the beaches and experience the benefits of hydrotherapy.

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