Leap project to be extended for the next seven months

Minister for the Family Michael Farrugia signs an agreement with the Malta Association for Supported Employment to extend the Leap project beyond the end of EU funding

The Minister for the family and social solidarity Michael Farrugia signed an agreement with the Malta Association for Supported Employment to mark a closer collaboration between the Ministry for the Family and NGOs working to help the more vulnerable straits of society achieve more social inclusion.

“The collaboration with NGOs has already lead to a number of important projects, namely the Leap project,” Farrugia said explaining that the agreement today would mean the extension of the Leap project into a Leap programme by the end of summer.

“The Leap project has managed to reach a number of beneficiaries who were given the opportunity to believe in themselves and learn the necessary skills to enter the labour market,” Farrugia said.

He explained that some 250 people had benefitted from the project so far, with around 30 of those who have already finished their training courses, already finding employment.

Farrugia made a particular reference to a beneficiary who had ultimately ended up a councilor at a local council on the island.

“This project has given individuals the necessary independence to break the cycle of benefit dependence and poverty risk,” he added explaining that the efforts would continue even though the EU funding for the project will end by the end of this year.

Farrugia said that the extension would aim to continue helping the socially excluded to find employment in the private sector following intense, specific and holistic training.

“Beneficiaries of the programme will continue to get the same benefits as before, but they will also get a monthly top-up of around €300 to incentivize increased participation in the programme.”

Farrugia said that the collaboration with NGOs would allow them to give those who benefit from help from the NGOs in question, the necessary aid.

“Our ultimate aim is to be able to go into society, and reach out to those people who do not ask for help for some reason or another,” Farrugia stressed.

He added that the programme aimed to reach up to around another 200 people and aid them in finding employment for the next seven moths of the year.  Looking forward to further collaboration with the private sector, Farrugia said that many private companies had already spoken out about their desire to hire beneficiaries of the project.

“We hope that some one third of the beneficiaries will be employed within the private sector,” he explained.

Farrugia said that the ministry was also currently looking at addressing families that had financial problems despite the fact that one of the parents was employed.

“We hope that we will be able to educate them to understand that they can both be employed and still take care of their children without putting their families at risk of poverty.

Farrugia pointed out that the programme would eventually be applying for EU Funds once again, which will cover some €3 million on an annual basis and that the extension would cost €230,000 to run for the next seven months.