Cause for concern

Concern has been raised about the number of men who are homeless in this country.

It has come from Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, who said men make up the majority of homeless persons, and there is an urgent need to work in a “better” and “more comprehensive manner” with the men who find themselves in that situation. Forde’s remarks came as she spoke during a service at the St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church to mark the National Assistance Board’s 38th anniversary and the beginning of Senior Citizens’ Month, as she told the congregation of the various programmes carried out by the NAB of which the Clyde Gollop Shelter for Men is one.

Minister Forde said that poverty in general is also of concern to her ministry, as she said it knows no boundaries and some persons are just a step away from finding themselves in that predicament.

“Once you lose your job, your family doesn’t care and you have not a proper income [and] you’re not getting pension, then it throws us into poverty, homeless – poor housing conditions, poor nutrition, chronic diseases, unaffordable medicines and reduced incomes. We must pay close attention to that,” she contended.

Her comments came as she commended the NAB for the excellent work it has been doing in providing a range of social support and recreational services for older persons in the community, noting that their efforts cannot be understated as Barbadians are living longer.
She maintained such efforts are of great importance, as it is the elderly on whose shoulders this country’s foundation has been built.

“Senior Citizens Month provides us with an opportunity not only to reflect on the contribution older persons have made to this country, but to balance this with the challenges and barriers which older persons encounter in this changing era… Whether in the home, workplace, community or the national level, older persons have shaped fundamental aspects of our lives, they have played that critical role in the growth, development and stability of Barbados. Many of them are unsung heroes… but today we say thanks for the foundation you have selflessly provided for us,” she added.

With that in mind, she said while the country has accomplished much, we cannot now be complacent, as turbulent economic times are negatively impacting the delivery of social service programmes and can erodes the gains made.

“The choices and contributions which we make at this critical juncture will not only influence and shape our future, but that of future generations. The type of society created for and by older persons will to a great extent depend on how they are perceived by society, as well as how they perceive themselves,” she said.

Minister Forde made the point while also noting the negative impact that chronic non-communicable diseases can have on the ageing population, but she said seniors are helping to change that by embracing active ageing.

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