A 50,000-strong faith-based organization has agreed on a set of “urgent” proposals to help bail out some Barbadians facing economic hardships or loss of jobs.
Following a two-hour meeting last night at the Faith Wesleyan Holiness Church in Jackman’s, St Michael, the Barbados Evangelical Association came up with a number of recommendations that would assist, not only their members to get back on their feet, but those 3,000 public sector workers who are expected to be retrenched by March.
Speaking immediately following the association’s annual general meeting, re-elected president Dr Nigel Taylor said some of the recommendations called for a skills bank, a food bank and a retooling of the skills of those going home so they could be more marketable in finding alternative employment.
Taylor revealed that the BEA’s executive would meet in two weeks to fine-tune the proposals and put a programme in place that was implementable and sustainable.
“Some of the fundamental issues that would have been discussed lend themselves into looking to see how best the church can stabilise itself, firstly, by looking at spiritual renewal, then the church will also look to see how best it can interface with the community at various levels,” the church organisation’s leader asserted.
In listing those areas of the action plan, he explained they would try “to ascertain and put in place a skills bank with the purpose of assisting those who might need the help”.
“In the area of pastoral care, we will seek to offer our services to those need counseling, because, the reality is, when any persons are displaced . . . they are human beings with a mental and psychosocial state. We need to also look at that; so we are going to put systems in place.”
The BEA head noted, too, that his association would try not to make those disadvantaged people beggars.
“We will assist them to the best of our abilities at the beginning, but we will also going to try to lift their esteem, like what happened in Boston, where churches would have developed agricultural projects and placed them at the disposal of their parishoners and the community persons. The church cannot separate its functionality from being in a church setting and isolate the community,” pointed out Taylor.
On the recommendation for a food bank, he made it clear, while the church would help people initially in feeding them, any such programme could not be a one-shot effort.
“We would have heard mentioned, persons talking about putting in place food banks; but not only food banks for raw materials, we also heard about the distribution of clothes . . . but moreso, the feeding programme.
“Now, let’s look at reality,” Taylor continued, “reality is that, at the beginning, you need to help them. The church will put a sustainable programme in place, that’s critical; you cannot just do a one-shot something, there has to be some degree of sustainability. Coupled with that, you must also look at the psychosocial care . . . the social ramifications and the social fallout from what could very well happen.”