BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (CMC) – A senior Barbados government minister is calling on churches and faith-based organisations to assist law enforcement authorities in dealing with crime and the presence of gangs across the island.
“We often think of tackling crime through interventions by agencies such as the Royal Barbados Police Force and other criminal justice agencies; however, it is evident that social, religious and educational organisations also have a role to play,” said Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, Steven Blackett.
“These include faith-based organisations which are also effective agents in providing solutions to the many challenges facing individuals, families, and societies in general,” he told a Train-the-Trainer Peer Mentorship Workshop for Faith-based Organisations on Friday.
Blackett said that the significant contribution of faith-based organisations could not be overstated in dealing with the crime situation.
“Over the years, the leaders and members of these organisations have demonstrated diligence and dedication in their work. I have no doubt that they will continue to contribute significantly to our society not only in their spiritual ministry, but also in community outreach initiatives, such as Peer Mentorship,” he said.
He said that the initiative was expected to provide the youth with positive peer contact which would promote opportunities for holistic development, empowerment and involvement, thus reducing certain risk factors such as alienation and anti-social behaviour.
Blackett said this would be achieved through the Peer Mentorship training which was designed to empower church members with the skills, information and resources needed to coordinate crime prevention programmes and allow the church to be seen as being a part of the community.
CJRPU director, Cheryl Willoughby, said that crime was a social problem requiring a holistic response, and the church was known for addressing such needs.
“The church has always responded to not only the spiritual development of Barbadians, but also the social and emotional needs,” she noted.