Between March and June when schools were closed because of Covid-19, around 1000 children were helped by the Malta Trust Foundation through a counselling service for them and their families. Professional counsellors told TVM that during the pandemic, various families faced considerable challenges including marital separations and parents who could not cope with the demands of their children.
During the last four months, despite the schools being closed, counsellors who work with the Malta Trust Foundation maintained contact with students and their families so that they will not fall behind. The Blossom programme, run by the Malta Trust Foundation and the Deloitte Foundation, has been offering a counselling service since 2016 to students from St Paul’s Bay primary school and those who attend the middle school in Naxxar. Rita Galea and Isabelle Anastasi said that the challenges faced by some students during Covid 19 have continued to increase because of financial problems and other problems between the parents.
”Some parents lost their jobs and ended up without any income, their children were up all the time, someone was always opening the fridge and they had a problem to buy food.”
Sarah Bondin, from the Malta Trust Foundation, explained that the Blossom service is an ongoing programme which is sustained through the money invested by private companies as part of their corporate social responsibility.
At the St Paul’s Bay school, which is attended by more than 1000 children of 65 different nationalities, the challenges are more complex. Isabelle Anastasi said through contact with the children at least once or twice a week and the use of technology, it made it possible not only to speak to the children but to the parents as well.
”We had children who had cut off contact, closed themselves up in their room and refused to come out, and other children who had problems with technology and could not cope.”
The counsellors said that the service works hand in hand with the counselling programme of the education department and they were also given support from other Government entities such as Aġenzija Appoġġ. Led by President Emeritus Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the Malta Trust Foundation also has a Food Aid programme by means of which food is distributed to vulnerable people.