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LEAP Centre opened in Xewkija, Gozo – already helping 40 people

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LEAP Centre opened in Xewkija, Gozo - already helping 40 peopleOn Friday afternoon the Minister for Family and Social Solidarity Michael Farrugia, together with the Minister for Gozo Dr Anton Refalo, launched a LEAP Centre in Xewkija.

Minister Michael Farrugia said that this is another step in the in the execution of the electoral programme where the promise was to open a number of centres for families in Malta and Gozo.

The Minister said that there are about 40 beneficiaries in Gozo; three quarters of whom are disabled persons, who by virtue of this project are being given training opportunities. Some of them are already preparing plans, together with institutions, to help them open commercial activities.

“This experience clearly shows the great need that exists for further training, both for public officials to assist vulnerable people integrate into society, as well as training for the same people to move into the society while getting back their dignity. This project aims to fill this gap,” said Minister Farrugia.

He added that it had been encouraging that almost 15% of all beneficiaries in the project came from Gozo.

Minister Farrugia explained that the Leap Project, which is funded by the European Social Fund, expires in September of this year. “But the Ministry of Family and Social Solidarity is already doing a study for this project, it is not simply a project that was born and ended, but will continue to run within the structures of the two Ministries.”

“The outreach work in the community are the fundamental concept of this project. This is a Government that not only does not comply to poverty and vulnerability as a perception, but as reality – a reality that is addressed,” said Minister Farrugia

“We believe that in addition to those people who are knocking on doors daily of the administration to help others who suffer silently at home from one failure or another. We believe that such a project as this, to work directly in the community, may seek and identify support for these people,” concluded Minister Michael Farrugia.

On his part the Minister for Gozo Dr Anton Refalo reiterated that the ideal is to remove poverty completely. “It is an ideal that must be seen and one which we work towards.”

“That is why the LEAP project is being run region to region very close to the root of all kinds of poverty. In each region, they are compiling information and learning from them and, moreover, committing to these same institutions linked to poverty to be proactive and bring solutions forward.”

“The LEAP project is intended to identify those people and categories in society who are at risk, or in poverty. This project helps those who are most in need by providing a remunerated training. The same project has a broader vision, to identify what real poverty is, what causes poverty, and what may be among the many solutions that together can mitigate poverty,” Dr Refalo said.

For this purpose, the Ministry for Gozo could never refuse to give assistance. Dr Refalo said. “The Ministry feels that it should help people living among us, and even if they are not well, to help have a level of sustainable living.”

“Ultimately, the Ministry for Gozo feels it should be collaborating because its structures are already providing such services. In fact, it makes sense because through the LEAP project, these Governmental efforts by the Ministry for Gozo, combined with other philanthropic efforts, voluntary and ecclesiastical working in synergy, achieves one goal.”

Therefore, the Minister reiterated, the Ministry for Gozo and the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity is working through interministerial collaboration, to provide more services in Gozo.

“Today, as we see, we are not only highlighting the opening of a centre or a building, but the beginning of a regional network of development in which we find the Directorate of Customer Services, Directorate of Social Security, the Social Work Unit, and the Day Care Centre of Persons with Special Needs, all from the Ministry for Gozo.”

“They will be working hand in hand with other institutions run by the LEAP Centre Gozo, always for the benefit of Gozo, and all those who seek refuge in it, Dr Refalo concluded.

Photograph: MGOZ/George Scerri

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