The head of the Barbados Christian Council is calling for a collective response from churches to deal with the layoff of thousands of Government workers.
Council chairman Monsignor Vincent Blackett said while many churches had been actively engaged on the issue, the time had come for them to begin pooling resources to reach out to communities as a unit.
“I think that everybody wants to score points, and everybody wants to show how well they are doing. Even within one denomination you can have that kind of competitive spirit and that might jolt people and get them going; but I think that what would be best would be for everybody to come together. And not only hand out things, because you know the old Chinese proverb, ‘You give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and he would learn to feed himself for the rest of his life’,” Blackett told Barbados TODAY.
The monsignor cited, as an example, the Catholic Church’s decision in the 1940s to help form a credit union in response to economic difficulties at that time. That initiative was led by a group of low-income earners and members of the St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church that formed a savings union in July 1947, that later became known as the Shamrock Savings Union, before transitioning to the Shamrock Credit Union, according to information from the Barbados Co-operative and Credit Union League Limited.
That decision by the Catholic Church led to the birth of the credit union movement in Barbados.
Monsignor Blackett said: “It’ll be good to see how the credit unions can come together to see how they can advance life for the communities. I think what the churches might want to do now is to look to see if starting more credit unions would be the answer or to see how, together we can respond, and the sooner we can do something, it would be better for all.”
At a meeting of the Catholic Church last month, it was decided that an umbrella body called The Hub would be established to assist where necessary.
Meanwhile, during a recent visit to Barbados, the head of the worldwide movement of Spiritual Baptists, King Shepherd Callender, called for a Christian social safety net to soften the retrenchment blow. He said the matter had already been discussed at the level of his office and should be treated as an immediate priority.
“Our prayer and our hope is that the local communities of faith believers will look at programmes to seek to alleviate the hardship of that economic [situation], but I think it has not yet sunk in. So people are operating as normal, but I know it’s going to sink in soon, and when it does our programmes must be in place [as] a Christian social safety net,” Callender said.
While estimates are that more than half of the 3,000 public sector workers earmarked for retrenchment have been sent home, the Government is yet to reveal exactly how many employees have been laid off to date.