Empowering persons with disabilities was the main objective of an ‘Economic Empowerment Seminar’, held today (August 18), by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, in collaboration with the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities.
Conducted at the Ministry, in Kingston, the seminar focussed on disabled persons operating small businesses, with grants allocated by the Government. These seminars have been taking place throughout the island, in order to educate persons with disabilities, on the best ways to utilise the grants provided by the Government.
State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore, who spoke at the seminar, said that $15 million from the Economic Empowerment Grant programme, has been put in place to help the disabled. Of the amount, $5 million has been allocated towards adaptive aids, such as eye glasses, hearing aids or prosthesis, in order to facilitate their integration in the society.
The Minister informed that the remaining $10 million has been set aside to provide economic grants to the disabled, which would enable them to start their own small businesses, so they could become more independent and generate their own small cash flow.
“Persons with disabilities have been facing a serious uphill battle in this country for a very, very long time,” he pointed out, adding that approximately 10 per cent of the population (300,000 persons) are disabled.
A participant at today’s (August 18) Economic Empowerment Seminar, Robert Lawson (left), entertains the audience, while (from left) State Minister in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Andrew Gallimore; Chair of the National Advisory Board on Disabilities, Dr Patricia Dunwell; and Chair of the Margaret Moodie Fund, Evelyn Craig Brown, look on. Today’s seminar was held at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, on North Street, Kingston, to advise persons with disabilities, who receive grants, how they could properly manage the money given to them to start small businesses.
Mr. Gallimore said the series of seminars are being held to try and guide them in maintaining the money that they have received, and recommended that they ensure that their business expenses are separate from their personal expenses, and to guarantee that when selling, they have the means to replenish their stock, in order for the business to be sustainable.
The State Minister reminded persons of the 1-888-ENABLE hotline that was implemented a year and a half ago, allowing persons with disabilities to contact the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities, to let them know that help is needed.
“Despite their disabilities, these are a proud set of people and they do not want charity, they just want the same kind of opportunities and accessibility that are available to people without disabilities. We have to prepare a society that we would be comfortable living in, if we had a disability, as you have,” Mr. Gallimore said.
The State Minister reassured members of the disabled community that, “all of us are here to help you and to try and lift your standard of living.”
The seminar was held under the theme: ‘Persons with Disabilities operating Small Businesses’.