LEAP Centre launched in Xewkija, Gozo

Ministers Michael Farrugia and Anton Refalo launch LEAP Centre in Xewkija, Gozo

Minister for the family and social solidarity Michael Farrugia and Gozo minister Anton Refalo launched a LEAP centre in Xewkija, Gozo, earlier this afternoon.

Farrugia said that this is another step in the realization of the electoral program which had promised to open a number of family centres across Malta and Gozo.

Farrugia said that there were around 40 beneficiaries in Gozo with three quarters of these people having disabilities.

“Thanks to this project, these people are getting the opportunity to be trained. Some of these people are also making plans to start up business activities alongside the institutions that are helping them,” he added.

“This experience has clearly shown the great need for more training both for public officials to help vulnerable people too integrate with society, and for these people themselves to allow them to get closer to society and earn back their dignity.”

Farrugia added that the project is aimed at filling this gap, while mentioning that it was encouraging that 15% of the beneficiaries for this project were Gozitan.

“Project LEAP is financed by the European Social Fund and it will close next September. The Ministry is however already carrying out studies to ensure that this project doesn’t merely finish, but that it will continue to benefit its people,” Farrugia added.

Farrugia explained that outreach and community work are the fundamental concepts of the project.

“This government not only looks at poverty and vulnerability as a reality, but it considers it a reality that should be addressed,” Farrugia said.

“We believe that aside from the people who actively seek help on an everyday basis, there are others who suffer silently. We believe that a project such as this one, which works directly within the community, can find and identify help for these people,” added Farrugia.

Refalo on the other hand said that ideally poverty would be eradicated completely, but that it is an ideal that we should look up to and work towards.

“This is why project LEAP is travelling from one region to another so that it can get closer to the root of all kinds of poverty. It is finding all those struck by poverty in some way or another, learning from them and above all using those institutions related to poverty so that they become proactive in pushing forward their solutions,”

Refalo explained that the project aims to identify those people and categories within society who are either poor or at risk of poverty.

“This project helps those who are in most need by providing a framework of remunerated training, and it has a wider vision to identify what real poverty is, and what the causes and solutions are.”

Refalo said that the ministry felt that it was their duty to ensure that everyone, whatever their nationality deserves to have a sustainable way of life.

“Ultimately the Gozo Ministry feels it should collaborate as its structures are already being provided by these services. This is why these two ministries feel the need to collaborate in order to provide better services in Gozo,” Refalo said.

“Today we are not only marking the opening of a centre or building, but the beginning of a regional development network where we find the customer services directive, the social security directive, the social work unit and the day care centre for people with special needs.”

“All of these organisations will be working with other institutions run by LEAP in Gozo for the benefit of Gozo and all the people who will seek shelter in it,” Refalo concluded.