BARP STATEMENT FOR SENIOR CITIZENS MONTH, SEPTEMBER 2018
The Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) is happy once again to laud and honour our members as well as the wider body of senior citizens in this month of September as the country celebrates Senior Citizens Month. BARP pledges to continue its mission as the authentic voice of the elderly in Barbados and to lend support to our sister organisations in other CARICOM countries and beyond. We acknowledge that our senior citizens have laid the foundation by their steadfast work in the past in contributing to the prosperity and stability of our country. BARP takes this opportunity to congratulate our living centenarians and especially those who have already reached and those who are looking forward to, this milestone during the current year. As the President, Mr. Edward Bushell, has promised at our recent AGM we hope to inaugurate in the near future BARP Century Club as a token of our appreciation in honour of our centenarians.
BARP congratulates the new Government on its success at the recent polls and welcomes the decision to establish a Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs which you may recall was one of the proposals we had put to the political parties in the BARP Manifesto Proposals during the elections. We pledge to work with this Ministry as it rolls out its plan for the welfare of our senior citizens. One important element of those plan that BARP would like to see is comprehensive legislation on all matters of elder affairs, particularly legislation against elder abuse in all its forms whether physical, sexual, financial or psychological and the like. BARP, like all right-thinking persons, abhors elder abuse and strongly advocates that it should be eradicated where ever it raises its ugly head. The legislation should also deal with such matters as the regulation of elder care homes, both public and private, the rights of the elderly and perhaps something resembling a Charter for the Elderly.
Health issues are a major concern of the elderly. In this regard, it is arguably the major achievement of BARP during the year to have negotiated through CGM Gallagher Insurance Brokers, a Group Life and Health Insurance Plan underwritten by Sagicor Life Inc., Bryden’s Insurance Inc and The Beacon Insurance Co. Ltd. I am happy to say that this plan was enthusiastically welcomed by our members and we sincerely hope that it will succeed and endure for years to come. We encourage all eligible members especially, new members, to join the Plan.
Let us however be mindful that preparing for old age is based, in part, on the foundation of a healthy life style both mentally and physically. BARP always encourages its members, and this appeal also goes out to the wider community, notably to practise healthy eating “just a pinch of salt”; and promoted its gardening project which has morphed into the formation of the BARP Green Thumbs Club whose members are eager to continue gardening activities in their respective communities. We hope that such activities are readily accepted wherever they are started.
BARP congratulates those organisations, like the National Assistance Board and church groups who have established day care centres for the elderly where educational, social and recreational activities take place to enhance the mental, psychological and physical well-being of the elderly. It is important that our seniors “get out of the house” to socialize with their peers. We would appeal to those organisations who have the necessary facilities to open their doors to our seniors.
In celebrating Seniors Citizens Month, mention must be made of assistance that can be extended to those senior citizens in need. BARP has recognised this situation and has moved since last year to transform its personal assistance fund into a functioning BARP Charitable Trust which began its operations in February of this year. The mission of the Trust is to provide assistance to those who find themselves in dire financial difficulties. It also renders assistance for the advancement of education by the provision of scholarships, bursaries or other awards to study in the area of gerontology. We encourage donations to the Trust as these are tax deductible and such donations provide the necessary wherewithal for the Trust to carry out its important functions.
BARP will continue to negotiate with the private sector in order to expand the programme of concessions which its membership enjoys and which provides a necessary cushion to the ever-rising cost of living.
Finally, BARP continues to adhere to is vision to create a Barbados and a wider Caribbean society in which all 50 plus people live with dignity and independence, safety and security realising their well-being, aspirations and goals. The organisation will endeavour to be recognised as an outstanding leader of the 50 plus people through excellent service delivery, vigorous advocacy, promotion of lifelong learning for personal realisation, capacity enhancement and sound governance.
We wish that Senior Citizens Month be a blessing to and a joyous time for our elders.