As Government moves to transform the so-called block culture, some of those who hang out on those blocks say if given an opportunity they can be a force for good.
While the block culture has been blamed for rising gun crime, one man who hangs out in an area known as 12 Gauge Block in Silver Hill, Christ Church told Barbados TODAY they were misunderstood.
He contended that the blocks were full of untapped potential, and the so-called boys on the block simply needed an opportunity to put their creativity to positive use.
“We need people to listen to us and be willing to find out what else we can do besides being idle. We need people to guide us and show us how to deal with things,” the man who gave his name as Randy said.
“We have a lot of girls that do hair, we have guys that do tattoos and others that are just good with their hands. Once the opportunity is there I am sure that we can do big things. Most of us out here don’t want to be thinking about takings things that don’t belong us or taking up a gun. We are at the point where we need that opportunity,” he added.
Randy’s plea was echoed by a fellow block member, who referred to himself as Rabbit, and who said he was living proof that people can change.
The 24 year-old man, who has already amassed eight convictions, told Barbados TODAY he was now the proud owner of a fruit stand in the area. He also warned youngsters that prison was no bed of roses, therefore, if the opportunity arises to do something constructive, it should be grasped with both hands.
“Prison real hard and young people need to put down the guns and start living as one. Crime don’t pay, trust me on that because I have been through so much and I am really lucky to be here,” he said, while expressing joy at being part of the Government initiative.
Government has launched a Building Blocks initiative, through which it will acquire land used as blocks and to develop business centres.
Minister of Youth and Community Empowerment Adrian Forde, who heads the programme, today toured ten blocks in Christ Church and St Michael for a better idea of what was needed for such a transformation to take place.
He explained that as a first step, Government would make skills training available at the various community centres across the island.
“We are going to have to engage other ministries such as the Ministry of Housing and Lands as acquisitions will have to take place.
“Today we have renamed this block from 12 Gauge Block to the 12 Step Block. On this block there is going to be four businesses. The youngsters are also going to be trained in various disciplines using the community centres,” Forde explained.