There is no denying that many Barbadians are going through some tough times. At the root of it is the rising cost of living which is exerting significant pressure on consumers.
Rising prices have their genesis in many local and global circumstances. They range from pandemic-related supply disruptions that have led to much greater demand than supply to other challenges that include the war in Ukraine. That conflict has upended supplies of grain and fertilizers as this Eastern European country is one of the world’s leading suppliers of these products.
The ripple effect for the people of Barbados has been damaging. As a country that is heavily dependent on direct imports, as well as import substitution for the manufacturing sector, the effects on the cost of living have been significant.
Earlier this week, consumers were put on notice by the country’s lone animal feed producer that the cost of its feeds would be increasing again.
There is no doubt that the number of people seeking assistance from the state and from various social groups and community organisations has risen.
As an acknowledgement of the growing need for social assistance in households across Barbados, the current administration significantly expanded its budget to the Welfare Department and other social services of the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs to ensure the most vulnerable among us are attended.
Earlier this year, Minister Kirk Humphrey outlined Government’s intention to undertake an assessment of over 6,000 people on welfare across the country “to clean” the list of persons requiring assistance.
The outcome of that assessment has not yet been released but we suspect that at the conclusion, Government may discover there are many more than 6 000 in need of state help of various forms.
However, there is one development that we are particularly impressed by. Despite all the obstacles Barbadians have faced in recent years, they have decided to share the burden and look out for those who are in need.
While there are many organisations and individuals who have made it their life’s calling to help the poor and dispossessed among us, the Salvation Army is the one entity for which there is a very high degree of trust and credibility.
Should we, therefore, be surprised by the fact that Barbadians far surpassed even the ambitious target of $750,000 of the Salvation Army, in its annual Christmas Fundraising Appeal for 2022?
In its customary open approach to undertaking its affairs, the Salvation Army revealed that it received almost $100 000 more than it had aimed for during the appeal.
“As leader of The Salvation Army in Barbados, I want to express my heartfelt thanks for your continued support. Whether you are an enthusiastic volunteer, or a generous donor, together we can make a difference,” Major Brenda Greenidge stated.
The Army, which for many years operated a feeding centre in The City and provided temporary housing for the island’s homeless and destitute, has raised a total of $849 000. At this rate, one could imagine that a target of $1 million in 2023 could be a reasonable goal.
It is obvious that the public’s level of support for the Salvation Army represents a vote of confidence in the way this body has operated its affairs and its transparency regarding the funds it receives from the public and how they are used.
The Army has long established an Advisory Board of independent, highly regarded Barbadians to ensure there is transparency.
Names such as Sir Geoffrey Cave, Wilfred Field, and Paul Bernstein, the longstanding chairman have been associated with the religious body Advisory Board.
In addition, to confidence in the organisation, we believe that more Barbadians, who themselves faced difficult economic times, are in a better place to empathise with those who have even less and are keen to make a difference.