Amid rising layoffs and a worrying economic climate, former Government MP Hamilton Lashley is telling the Freundel Stuart Government that it needs to pay special attention to the youth who live in low income housing areas across the Barbados; otherwise he fears the island could end up with a worsening crime problem on its hands.
Lashley issued the strong words of caution in an interview with Barbados TODAY, in which he suggested the creation of a “protective unit” for youth, especially the unemployed, living in the poor districts.
“You see this grouping in the housing areas, it is often overlooked and I am saying that within the housing areas –– The Pine, Grazettes, the two Gall Hills, Silver Hill, Maynards, you could call them all over Barbados –– we must look out for these young people, if not you will find that you will have disintegrated housing areas, the moral fabric will drop, the youth will feel that they are no longer cared about in this society,” he warned.
Commenting on the recent upsurge in the use of guns by the criminal element, Lashley also said: “Unfortunately among certain groupings in Barbados, guns are the first choice of weapons being used.”
However, in spite of these negative behavioural patterns, Lashley said he was acutely aware of the talent and potential to be found in housing estates. He is therefore calling on Government to put the necessary socal safety nets in place and to create a “protective unit” for vulnerable youth living in the country’s housing areas.
“I am thinking that at this time in our development when Barbados is going through its present economic crisis a protective unit should be put in place to really safeguard the young people in communities across the country, particularly in the housing estates where there are heavy concentrations of vulnerable youth,” said the former Minister of Social Transformation.
“The housing estates in Barbados have the most vulnerable groupings, yet at the same time I am saying they have some of the most ambitious and innovative young people. I must be cautious when I speak about a safety net, because a lot of people believe you are speaking about a handout or a give-away, or that because a person lives in a housing estate automatically they should be given some of the Government subsidies, which no longer exist.
“I am thinking in terms of providing resources to protect the future of our young people and stop them from being disenchanted or their aspirations thwarted. I am thinking that we should be able to set up in the resource centres, in the housing estates “incubator units”, utilizing the skills of young people and preparing them for the world of work with a focus on the entire world,” Lashley added.
Lashley, who spent many of his formative years in a housing estate, stressed that Government had a duty to look after these youth, lest it faced the disintegration of these communities.
The former Cabinet minister said: “ The moral fabric of the housing estates will deteriorate. The youth will feel that they are not cared about in the society. Once there is this level of layoffs at this time, you will find that if we do not put those kinds of safety nets in place, [there will be] an escalation in . . . crime . . . in Barbados.”