During the first months of the pandemic about 50 vulnerable persons who had no roof over their heads were provided with shelter at Dar Padova in Gozo which at the height of the pandemic was changed into a residential home for the homeless. This was one of many social situations addressed by the Fondazzjoni għas-Servizz ta’ Ħarsien Soċjali that offers a chain of services including child welfare protection, victims of domestic violence and victims of drugs abuse.
Last year the Fondazzjoni was allocated a record sum of €24 million by the Government to enable services given to more than 19,000 clients.
The Foundation’s Executive Head, Alfred Grixti, said that Gozo had come to Malta’s rescue in what he termed as a crisis of homeless people. He explained that 50 persons had been relocated to Dar Padova in Gozo because the spread of the virus had caused shelters in Malta not to accept more entrants.
He said a night shelter had been changed into a homeless shelter with an isolation room to meet those consigned from Malta to ensure they are not infected and Dar Padova has thus accommodated 50 persons.
Alfred Grixti said that during the first year of the pandemic FSWS social works had succeeded to eliminate the list of those suffering domestic violence by providing support for the victims, including children, and professionals continued to assist them while their cases were being treated in Court.
Their commitment left no pending cases to ensure that those suffering domestic violence should not suffer months of anxiety but would have an outlet of support to resort to.
While presenting the FSWS report for 2020, Executive Head Grixti said that 19,000 had resorted to help from the Foundation and more than half of these were females. Despite the pandemic the Foundation continued in a normal manner to offer services related to the protection of children and victims of drugs abuse.
The Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, Michael Falzon, said that last year the Foundation had benefitted from €24 million, an increase of €3.5 million annually. Minister Falzon said that pre-Budget discussions were revealing the scourge of solitude. He also noted that during the pandemic, unlike other countries, Malta had not experienced a rise in suicide cases.