THE Sandy Lane Charitable Trust (SLCT) has launched a million-dollar initiative aimed at feeding vulnerable families across the island.
News of the SLCT Feed a Family Programme came from Trustee Phillipa Challis who, speaking yesterday afternoon from Ilaro Court, announced that $1.5 million in supermarket food vouchers are to be distributed over the next six weeks through the 30 constituency offices to the families in most need. Her comments came as she indicated that the SLCT is prepared to put another $1.5 million into the programme if needed, making it potentially a contribution of $3 million over a three-month period.
These monies, Challis revealed, are being taken from an emergency fund which the Trust had established to help feed and support those in need in the event that Barbados was to suffer a natural disaster or a devastating phenomenon.
She contended that the time had now come to use those resources, given that the global COVID-19 pandemic has closed our borders and businesses, leaving many families without food on their tables.
“The Trust does not want to be responsible for who gets the extra support; that would be left up to the Members of Parliament in each constituency. We have to believe that they would be in touch with, and have a better handle on those people who are in greatest need, and not just those who shout loudest. The only restriction that we as a children’s charity is asking, is that there be at least one child under the age of 18 resident in each household,” she stated.
This is the latest effort by the Charitable Trust, Challis said, to assist children in this country. Among their efforts to date, she noted are the construction of schools for children with various emotional and educational needs; the provision of counselling in primary schools and the provision of medical assistance.
“We also annually donate in excess of half a million dollars every year to support those children, who no fault of their own, find themselves in extreme poverty and deprivation. We help with food, school meals and uniforms. Unfortunately in the current dangerous times of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in unchartered territory and the reality is many people who have never had to seek assistance in the past from organisations such as ours before, have now lost their income and their independence and are now reaching out to gain support to purchase even the most basic amenities to feed their families,” she noted.
While lauding Government for the efforts being made to keep the country safe, she said they are cognisant that there are “still many unknowns as it relates to the enormity of the economic impact and over what time period”. With that in mind, she admitted that in the current situation, even with other initiatives like the Barbados Vulnerable Family Survival Programme, the funds will not go far.
“If I have the figures correct for this week, I believe there are over 4 000 families that have applied to the Vulnerable Family Fund and that the budget is for 1 700, and that is without all the other households that need our help and food that are not covered by either of our programmes. So I am also appealing to people and organisations please, please give what you can and continue to support the other community initiatives, even if it is to donate your valuable time and resources,” she added.
Meanwhile, Acting Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw offered heartfelt thanks for the SLCT for helping Government get much-needed resources to those who need it most.
“This donation at this point in time is particularly important to all of us as Members of Parliament, and I know it would be particularly important to a number of the people who would be the recipients of the donations. I know it would go a long way to add to the support that we obviously have been giving as a Government to those persons who are most vulnerable. But as Ms. Challis has said, every little bit helps to be able to top up what persons have right now been losing, as a result of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and for that we really want to say thank you from the bottom of the hearts of all Barbadians for the assistance that you continue to give to Barbados,” she added.