The newly-elected president of the Barbados Association of Retired Persons (BARP) Marilyn Rice-Bowen has declared her intention to create spaces islandwide to ensure that members have easy access to BARP programmes and activities.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Rice-Bowen said not all members have access to transport and noted that there was a need to meet them where they were.
BARP would be partnering with relevant government agencies to gain access to the community centres.
“My priority would be to make the organisation mobile, taking the programmes and activities to our members, because we do recognise that a lot of our members don’t have access to transportation.
“Don’t forget we are dealing with the senior members of our society. A lot of people don’t have access to transportation, many people don’t like to drive, and some people have to take the bus.
“So it is more effective if we take the programmes to them so that they don’t have to move from where they are.”
The women’s activist, insurance advisor, former politician who is the past president of the Young Women Christian’s Association (YWCA) also said that as BARP was a repository of knowledge, its board must ensure that the association’s membership was tapped on a continuous basis to empower and build the nation.
She told Barbados TODAY: “Any policy that affects seniors locally must be researched and findings shared with wider membership. We must be viewed as more than a source of discounts and much more than a source for life and health insurance.
“Information secured from the Barbados Demographics Profile 2018 revealed that there are 65,000 persons between the ages of 55 plus in this country as of March 31, 2019, but only 26,785 are members of BARP. We need to increase our reach and over the next two years we will attempt to increase our membership base.”
The BARP leader noted that during her two-year term BARP will continue to educate the public about elderly abuse.
She told Barbados TODAY: “People tend to view abuse only as physical, but there is also financial abuse, which is equally as harming to the elders of our society. So elder abuse would be addressed, but BARP has been addressing that for quite a while as well.
“It is for us to show people what are the signs of abuse. We were doing some radio spots helping persons to identify elderly abuse, and we will be continuing it. We take elderly abuse of all forms seriously.”
Rice-Bowen and three other members, Treasurer Monica Hinds, and Directors Clorinda Alleyne and Eric Smith were elected at the association’s 24th Annual General Meeting held last Saturday.
They join current board members, Vice President Dame Billie Miller, Secretary Henry Barrow and Director K.H.L. “Tony” Marshall.