GOVERNMENT is expecting to seek parliamentary approval soon for the Persons with Disabilities Bill. That’s the word from Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett,who said that piece of legislation is key to Barbados facilitating its commitment to honour the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. He made the comments while delivering the feature address last Saturday evening at the official opening of the Multi-purpose Unit at the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home, Glebe, St. George.

“The intent of the legislation is to codify the legal entitlements of persons with disabilities to ensure compliance with international best practice. In addition, it is anticipated that the legislation will promote the integration of these persons into the mainstream of national life by enabling the authorities to implement and enforce appropriate regulations in relation to access to public facilities and services, education, employment and cultural expression, with a view to substantially reduce social inequities that are endured by persons with disabilities, and that is a pledge of this Government,” he stated.

He went further, stating that this country’s national policy on persons with disabilities is in keeping with its international treaty commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Barbados signed in 2008 and ratified in 2013. Moreover, he said that the country has also made it clear that it is committed to implementing the 2030 Development Agenda for All Persons with Disabilities.

With that in mind, Minister Blackett added that Government, through the National Disabilities Unit, remains committed to the five objectives outlined in the White Paper on Persons with Disabilities, aimed at improving the lives of persons with disabilities. Those objectives, he said, include creating a supportive environment; promoting equal opportunity in all areas of development in order that each person would reach his or her maximum potential; empowering persons with disabilities and their organisations to become involved in the social economic development of the country; providing a framework for planning of programmes, services and activities; and encouraging and supporting ongoing research in all areas that impact on the lives of persons with disabilities. “Ladies and gentlemen, I have no doubt that the future of persons in Barbados living with disabilities – insofar as their empowerment, integration and inclusion are concerned – will continue to be in good hands provided that actors such as the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home are involved,” he said.

His comments came as he noted that the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home has made a sterling contribution to persons living with disabilities since it started operations in April 1975, offering 24-hour residential care for physically disabled children. Since then, he noted, the Home has continued to grow. The newest addition to the Home – the Multipurpose Unit, he said, will be a facility shared with the Because of Jenna Trust to offer a new daycare service and respite centre for severely brain damaged children.

“It is no secret that in order to sustain, improve and expand a range of services and capacity offered by Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home and similar entities,would require large outlays of financial and other resources which are proving more difficult to source. This is particularly so for Government which continues to provide an annual subvention, while at the same time is grappling with a revenue shortage for a considerable period of time. It is against this background that counterpart funding may be sourced from supplemental sources, including philanthropic sources. The collaboration between the Thelma Vaughan Memorial Home and the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust is demonstrable and tangible evidence of the fruitful possibilities of pursuing additional streams of financial revenue,” he added.

To that end, he expressed appreciation to the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust for assisting with the construction of the Unit and called on other corporate citizens to also lend a helping
hand. (JRT)

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