Ministry more than charity for vulnerable, says Humphrey

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs Kirk Humphrey has stressed that his Ministry must see itself as more than just an entity giving hand-outs to the vulnerable in society.

Humphrey was speaking in the House of Assembly today during the debate of the Appropriation Bill 2024. He was addressing a query from Member of Parliament Edmund Hinkson regarding the implementation of legislation which seeks to protect the rights of people with disabilities in Barbados.

Admitting that the Government has been good at allowing legislation to gather dust, Humphrey began by saying “I really think we are at the point of real transformation and that people ultimately want to take care of themselves.”

He continued: “For us, it is to make sure that this policy has life and that the community feels it at the end of the day. We want to translate these things so that people move from a state of feeling like they aren’t respected to feeling like they are respected; where they are not allowed to contribute, to a point where they are allowed to contribute. That is the vision (of the Ministry) essentially. Regardless of all the fancy words, we want people to be able to live and produce just like anyone else.”

Humphrey said that public education on these matters would be essential to ensure that Barbadians were sensitised about disabled people, but he also believes his Ministry must walk the walk as well in order for it to happen.

“If we are saying one thing, we have to show it. We’ve spoken about hiring persons with disabilities and as a Ministry, we have hired several persons with disabilities. This isn’t even about lowering our standards to hire them. It is clear to me that there is tremendous skill in the disabled community that we are missing out on and I want to use this opportunity to encourage people to come forward to work with people with disabilities.”

The Minister was also quick to call out members of the public who seek to film people with disabilities, deeming it ‘reckless and unhelpful’.

“It is not PR. It is not positive PR. It is discrimination. It shows the person sometimes in their most vulnerable state and I would want to say that I do not know of any case on our side where we have asked persons who are in a vulnerable position to go publicly and lower themselves for the purposes of making a political point. That is not who we are or what we do.”

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