Returning nationals based in Barbados are eagerly anticipating next year’s We Gatherin’ Vision 2020 celebrations and are predicting tremendous success in reconnecting dozens in the diaspora with their homeland.
But economic uncertainty over ongoing Brexit negotiations has threatened to slash the spending power of those living and working in Britain or receiving pensions from the British government.
A closely-knit community of returning nationals shared the views while at the Speightstown Resource Centre enjoying a four-hour session of ballroom and line dancing on Thursday..
While the retirees are mostly focused on enjoying their golden years in the land of their birth, many are deeply concerned about their country’s social and economic prosperity as well as an increasing loss of patriotism among their children and grandchildren.
Innes Mascoll, line dance instructor and dance coordinator for the Northern Group of Returning Nationals explained she was eager to participate in Vision 2020.
“I think it’s a good initiative, because the second generation will be more interested in coming home because when our generation left, we were always keen on returning to Barbados, but our children and grandchildren can now come and find out what Barbados is really like,” Mascol said.
She explained: “They usually come on holiday as tourists, but now with a year dedicated to them returning to Barbados, it feels like they’re finally being recognised as Barbadians.”
The retired social worker who served in London for 40 years as a neighbourhood social worker however cautioned Barbadians to taper their expectations about the wealth of those returning from Britain as a result of ongoing Brexit negotiations.
“The pound has taken a drastic dip and our disposable income has been reduced and with the economic situation in Barbados, it compounds everything. We have less to spend and therefore some are clutching the money they have saved because it’s starting to depreciate,” she explained.
“At the moment it’s not only Barbados experiencing turmoil, but it’s happening in Europe as well. The whole world is struggling.”
Meanwhile, Reuben Rollock, President of the Northern Group for Returning Nationals is extremely optimistic and believes next year’s initiative will inject millions of dollars into the economy.
The former London Underground Railway worker and longstanding trade union executive said the group was attempting to get as many people in the Barbadian diaspora as possible to take part.
“At one stage the diaspora was the second greatest foreign exchange earner next to tourism. We Gatherin’ can kick start that again,” said the optimistic president.
According to him, young people needed to be the focus of their campaign.
“We want the 2nd and 3rd generation of Barbadians overseas to be recognised… everybody is bringing their children and their grandchildren. The younger generation is who we want to capture, because the younger generation needs to know where their grandparents are from and perhaps some of them may even stay.”
The Barbadian-Londoner also acknowledged the challenges posed by sharp drops in the value of the British Pound, but expressed confidence minor budgetary adjustments could solve the problems with ease.
“I get my pension from overseas and when it comes here, it is not as much as it used to be, but some of the things you used to do, you can cut out and be okay. If you’re going on two or three cruises, you can cut out one. If you have Barbados at heart, a couple dollars won’t matter,” he said.
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