BARP issues message to mark senior citizen month
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 Senior Citizens Month of September.
BARP pledges to continue its mission as the authentic voice of the elderly in Barbados and to lend support to our sister organizations 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 President Mr Edward Bushell promised at our recent AGM, we hope in the near future, to inaugurate 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 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 BARP would like to see is comprehensive legislation on all matters of elder affairs, particularly legislation against elder abuse in all its forms – 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 wherever it raises its ugly head. The legislation should also deal with the regulation of public and private elder care homes, 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 members enthusiastically welcomed this plan and we sincerely hope that it will succeed and endure for years to come. We encourage all eligible members especially, new ones, to join the Plan.
Let us, however, be mindful that preparing for old age is based, in part, on the foundation of a healthy lifestyle both mentally and physically. BARP always encourages its members, and this appeal goes out to the wider community as well, to practise healthy eating – “just a pinch of salt”. BARP has also promoted its gardening project which has morphed into 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 organizations like the National Assistance Board and church groups which have established day care centres for the elderly where educational, social and recreational activities take place to enhance their mental, psychological and physical well-being. It is important that our seniors “get out of the house” to socialize with their peers. We would appeal to those organizations which 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 senior citizens in need. BARP recognised this situation and since last year, moved to transform its personal assistance fund into a functioning BARP Charitable Trust which began operations in February this year. The Trust’s mission is to provide assistance to those in dire financial difficulties. It also provides scholarships, bursaries or other awards to study gerontology. We encourage donations to the Trust as these are tax deductible and provide the necessary wherewithal for the Trust to carry out its important functions.
BARP will continue to negotiate with the private sector 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 its vision to create a Barbados and a wider Caribbean society in which all 50-plus people live with dignity and independence, safety and security realizing their well-being, aspirations and goals. The organization will endeavour to be recognised as an outstanding leader of the 50-plus community through excellent service delivery, vigorous advocacy, promotion of lifelong learning for personal realisation, capacity enhancement and sound governance.
We wish that Senior Citizens Month is a blessing to and a joyous time for our elders.