From left to right: Mario Eastmond of Prison Fellowship Barbados (PFB); Director of Youth Affairs, Cleviston Hunte; Minister Dwight Sutherland; PFB Director, Neil Dowden; Manager of YES, Ryan Moseley; and Pastor Jasma Dottin, PFB, at today’s handover ceremony. (S. Forde-Craigg/BGIS)

The Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) has partnered with Prison Fellowship Barbados (PFB) to provide training and entrepreneurial coaching to former inmates of Her Majesty’s Prison, Dodds.

This was disclosed today by Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment, Dwight Sutherland, during a handover ceremony of equipment, including lawn mowers, weed whackers and blowers, totalling $30,000, to the Director of PFB, Neil Dowden.

“Today’s ceremony highlights the benefits of establishing sound public-private partnerships where synergies can be twinned to create strategic alliances,” Minister Sutherland said.

He noted that Government had budgeted $29 million in the 2021-2022 estimates to operate HMP Dodds, which he said could be used to develop youth programmes and help vulnerable families in communities.

“Amidst the financial impacts, what we have as a result of incarceration and imprisonment are … broken relationships, challenges within our families, despair in our society, victimisation as well, and more importantly what we are seeing is destruction in our communities,” Minister Sutherland stated.

The Youth and Empowerment Minister emphasised that ex-inmates need to be engaged in a meaningful way to give them an opportunity to do right, if not, recidivism would occur, which would not be good for the individual or their families.

He declared: “This Government is committed to what we call improving the livelihoods of all our people, and widening the economic enfranchisement opportunities. And those incarcerated are part of the all, and we are leaving no one behind…. We will leave no one behind, equal opportunity for all.”

Minister Sutherland thanked Prison Fellowship Barbados for its work, in assisting ex-inmates and their families, as well as for conducting training two days a week with prisoners, who have enrolled in the entrepreneurial development programme in the areas of gardening and lawn maintenance. 

Director Dowden, in accepting the donation of equipment, stated: “We want to thank the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme for partnering with us to help in the regeneration and reintegration of these young men as they come out of Her Majesty’s Prison, as we know the employment for these ex-inmates is normally very hard.

“So, we work in partnership with the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme to have equipment available, so that some of these guys who would have learned to work within prison would be able to employ themselves outside of prison…. This move will show ex-inmates that they will be able to get a second chance because a second chance is all that they need sometimes to make good.”

Mr. Dowden made an appeal to corporate Barbados to assist former inmates by hiring them to carry out work, such as debushing or landscaping. 

“Prison Fellowship Barbados will come and work for you; the guys will be supervised by our volunteers, and the work will be professionally done,” Mr. Dowden assured.

Prison Fellowship Barbados has been operating as a registered charity since 1979, and caters to the diverse needs of prisoners and their families.

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