Drop-in emergency centre to offer food and shelter to 20 people

Dar il-Hena Emergency drop in centre in Birkirkara was inaugurated to offer food and shelter to 20 people in need

Minister Michael Farrugia tours the new Drop-in emergency centre
Minister Michael Farrugia tours the new Drop-in emergency centre

The Dar il-Hena foundation drop in centre has been inaugurated at Dar Papa Frangisku in Birkirkara.

Speaking at the inauguration, Social solidarity minister Michael Farrugia explained that the home was the first of its kind in Malta as it would offer 24/7 services from food, to accommodation, showers, laundry facilities as well as psychosocial services.

The home is a collaboration between the government, Caritas and the Alf Mizzi foundation.

Farrugia added that social workers would also be present at the home every morning to help new and recurring cases, with residents also having the option of support from leap mentors or job coaches to assist them in finding a new job.

“These people have to be empowered to move forward and work hard to rebuild their lives from the issues that plague them,” Farrugia said.

“People becoming homeless are a symptom of other issues like alcoholism, generational poverty, domestic abuse, drug addiction among others,” he said explaining that these issues had to be tackled accordingly to ensure that  their needs were properly addressed.

The minister also pointed out that another emergency nshelter hone was planned for Gozo and that another home would also be opened to separate men from women locally.  

The minister explained that a public project in parallel to this home was the government subsidisation of housing costs for three years for those who leave precarious positions in order to find jobs and rebuild their lives.

The Alf Mizzi foundation trustee Julian Sammut explained that the foundation had wanted to create a charity foundation on occasion of its 100th anniversary. He added that the foundation would also be providing the homes with food.

He explained that he hoped many would take this initiative as an example to found houses of the type around Malta.

Caritas director Leonid McKay said that the servicehad been envisioned in 2014 as a service focusing on food provision but that the home had developed into a shelter home.

“Initiatives like this often meet resistance even from neighbours but this project has had astounding support,” he added.

The minister said that the project had shown that the provate, public and church institutions could work together for the good of society.

“All too often people going through difficulties turn to police stations or to the charity of individuals, which may not be conducive to emotional and psychological support,” he added.

He explained that the building had been rented and refurbished extensively during the past year.

He added that employees at the home would be on the public payroll, with some 10 care workers working full time and about two others working as social workers.