Communication between people who are going through the same situation is the concept of support groups which are organised within Caritas. They cater for a number of social problems and sectors including gamblers, alcoholics, and epilepsy sufferers. TVM met with a person who has been attending the Thursday Club for those suffering from mental problems, for the last 16 years.
As has been happening for the last 30 years, every Thursday at the Caritas HQ in Floriana, the Thursday Club was holding its weekly meeting. Television Malta spoke with a participant who said that the club has changed her life and has helped her to get out of her shell.
“They have helped me a lot mentally and even socially because I suffer a lot – I am withdrawn and find it difficult to mix with others, although I am not as bad as I used to be.”
She said that after attending for 16 years, she now gives a helping hand at the meetings. She organises quizzes and prepares cakes for the members.
The Thursday Club is one of the support groups which is led by volunteers. Caritas’ social work includes counselling and social care services and various support groups for people going through various circumstances in life. These include Emotions Anonymous, a group for widows/widowers and separated persons, a group for younger separated persons, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous and Gambling Anonymous and their families, the Foundation for victims of usury and the epilepsy association.
Caritas Director Anthony Gatt said, “this is a tool in the form of a group for people who are going through difficult situations who can meet with people in similar circumstances and can find support from those who facilitate the group but also from the community of people who are going through something similar.”
He said that apart from these groups, Caritas wants to strengthen the support given to parishes in their social work. “The Church refers to them as the Diaconia Commission where you have a nucleus of volunteers together with the parish priest whose aim is to see the realities and social difficulties of the parish and offer their support.”
Caritas is currently undertaking two big projects: the Community Centre at Blata l-Bajda, with the plan being that by the middle of next year the main services and administration will be housed at this centre, and a therapeutic centre at tal-Ibwar for adolescences who have a drug abuse problem.