Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steve Blackett, addressing??those in attendance at the orientation session for the Identification and Assessment; Stabilisation; Enablement; and Empowerment. (I.S.E.E) Bridge Project, last week. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

Thirty families from across the island will spend the next two years working assiduously with 23 trained social workers with the aim of achieving total self-sustainment.

This has been made possible through the establishment of the Identification and Assessment; Stabilisation; Enablement; and Empowerment. (I.S.E.E) Bridge Project, which is being undertaken by the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development.

The concept, which stems from the Chilean Puente (Bridge) Programme, is based on enhancing social protection strategies and reducing poverty within the context of the Millennium Development Goals and it aims to transition persons from a state of dependency to empowerment.

During an orientation session for participants last Saturday at the St. Michael’s School, Minister Steve Blackett stated that initial plans to start the initiative began three years ago, following communication with the Organization of American States, which was promoting the programme throughout the region.

He noted that "empirical evidence" from the Welfare Department suggested that "any extreme poverty present in Barbados was intergenerational in nature" and pointed out that in 2009, his Ministry "recognised that there was the need for the development of a holistic social intervention programme that would target intergenerational poverty in Barbados at the level of the family – the cornerstone of society."

Stating that the concept of the ISEE Bridge programme marks a paradigm shift in how issues of poverty are addressed, Minister Blackett asserted that it "will result in positive sustainable change in the delivery of social protection strategies".

"This new approach fits into Barbados’ Medium-Term Development Strategy for 2010 to 2014, which focuses on empowering individuals and families with the aim of breaking the cycle of dependency and poverty," the Social Care Minister said, adding that Government was seeking to implement other progressive social programs to address poverty and the wider social agenda.

Alluding to assistance currently provided by the Welfare Department, the Minister explained that:

"The process will be different from the normal welfare approach in that families will be encouraged to do self-examination, to think creatively and come up with workable solutions. This approach of co-responsibility will involve looking at all of the residual and hidden talents, skills and other resources which people have that they might not ordinarily consider to be of value."

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Care, Bruce Alleyne, also underscored the importance of the initiative, and urged officers in the public sector, members of the private sector and the participants, to embrace the programme.

"The execution of the ISEE Programme is a clear example of the seriousness that Government brings to bear on the war on poverty…The empowering of these persons should allow them to meaningfully contribute to their own development, and by extension, to that of our beloved country, Barbados," Mr. Alleyne pointed out.


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