In its continuing efforts to fight the scourge of poverty in Barbados, the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development is seeking to refashion and retool some of its programmes to better serve the needs of its constituents.

This was revealed by Social Care Minister, Steve Blackett, yesterday as he addressed the opening ceremony of an Empowerment Fair to mark the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.?? It was held at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, the Garrison.

He said among the projects the ministry was seeking to implement was a pilot ISEE Bridge programme, which will target 30 vulnerable households from across the country.

"[Its aim is to ensure] that they benefit from the resources provided by the social safety net, to help them to overcome the cycle of poverty which often afflicts many generations of one family or household. Several agencies, including the Welfare Department, will be involved under this pilot which should commence early in the New Year."

Minister Blackett added that his Ministry was also seeking to refashion the Welfare to Work Programme into a new Poverty Reduction Empowerment Programme, which, he said "will result in its clientele becoming empowered persons to live productive and satisfying lives".

The Social Care Minister also described the Constituency Councils as a new platform for the "social upliftment" of Barbadians, particularly the vulnerable and the marginalised.

He disclosed that through the work of the councils, a database with the various skills of residents would be created, so they could be called upon when there was a need in the community.

"Under the councils we are seeking to develop and encourage the concept of vibrant communities, which is an action-oriented initiative that supports and explores promising local solutions for empowerment and poverty reduction."

This concept, Mr. Blackett believes, would assist in the reduction of poverty at the grassroots level, foster community development by creating a group of diverse leaders within communities, and enable mutually beneficial partnerships, which would make use of this country’s most valuable assets – its people, organisations and businesses.

Author: Andr?? Skeete

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