The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

How the Lino Spiteri Foundation promotes inclusion to support vulnerable sections of society

Helena Grech Saturday, 14 May 2016, 07:40 Last update: about 5 years ago

Sean and Joshua Brincat are two brothers who, through the help of the Lino Spiteri Foundation, have both successfully managed to find work. The foundation trains and offers guidance to persons with disabilities, as well as vulnerable persons, to find employment – and therefor reintegrate and contribute towards society.

Working is not only a means to become financially independent, but it also helps to provide a sense of self-worth. Those who cannot find work because of their particular situation tend to feel marginalised and isolated from society. The work of entities such as the Lino Spiteri Foundation is invaluable towards helping vulnerable people, who are often left behind, to find their feet and move forward.

Joshua Brincat, who suffers from a muscular disorder, is 24 years old and is now an airport attendant with the Malta International Airport. Mr Brincat’s disability only emerged some four years ago, his mother explained. Before that, he would go about his daily activities like anybody else, even enjoying a game of football or two with his friends.

His brother Sean Brincat suffers from a mental disorder. However his mother said that the medication he has been prescribed has helped him a lot. He now works as a cleaner for a school.

Asked about how they got to know about the Lino Spiteri Foundation, his mother said:

“I heard about it, and that they were taking applications for people like my boys. I went to Valletta, filled out a form, and the people from the Foundation said that they could help. My sons both started going there for training.”

Prior to registering with the Foundation, both Sean and Joshua were registered with the Employment and Training Corporation. Their mother said that both her sons had previously found work through the ETC, however each job was short-lived and never did quite pan out.

“When the Foundation opened I told my boys to register with them to see what sort of help they could get. They both said that they were very happy with the training they received,” she said.

She explained that they were going to classes with the Foundation for roughly two years before they began working. The brothers explained that it was like a typical class room setting, where they were trained together with other students.

“The training helped a lot, and I would urge anyone in a similar situation to register with the Lino Spiteri Foundation to get work,” Joshua said.

“We took a while to get used to the training, it was a little challenging at first,” he added.

Turning to their experiences at work, both brothers said that their new colleagues have been very helpful and kind.

“Till today they still have managers, or other workers helping them and overseeing, making sure the job is being done right and that the boys are coping,” the boys’ mother said.

“If they need something, I call the manager and they help. Their needs are always well taken care of.”

Speaking on behalf of his brother and himself, Joshua said:

“We felt quite nervous and excited on our first day, which is normal. Until getting used to the new surroundings, it is expected.”

“I took some time to get used to things, about four weeks, and the work coach really helped. He made me feel more comfortable and less pressure.”

Both Joshua and Sean work part-time, roughly five hours each day. They both said that they feel much more secure now that they are working.

“Knowing that when you get up in the morning you need to be at work is a great feeling,” Sean said.

Their mother interjected by saying that “doing nothing is frustrating – anyone would be upset if they had nothing to do. Working also gives them courage.”

Asked about what it means for them to be working after receiving the appropriate training and feeling secure in their position, they said that:

“Giving a contribution to society and working like everyone else is everything.”

Asked about whether they had any dream jobs when they were children, but they both replied that when “you are a child you want to do everything.”

Having both children with some a form of disability would be daunting for anyone, therefore being able to contribute at home has given both brothers courage and satisfaction.

The Lino Spiteri Foundation

The Foundation has helped a number of vulnerable people to find their place within society, as well as give back to their community. It was set up “following the Maltese Government’s initiative to encourage companies to create greater employment opportunities for vulnerable groups in Malta and Gozo, and Empower’s widening scope as the leading provider of such employment. Whilst the Equal Opportunities Act and Employment Quotas for Disabled Persons are legal requirements that should safeguard and promote the inclusion of persons with a disability, mental health problems, other vulnerable groups from gainful employment, the need for greater support, empowerment, training and understanding of the complexities these issues bring is paramount to the successful inclusion in employment,” reads the Foundation’s description.

“The Foundation was set up as a Public Social Partnership between the Employment & Training Corporation and the Empower Coop Ltd. The aim of the Foundation is to enhance inclusion through empowering individuals and working closely with civil society through a Council of NGOs that will support and guide the direction of the organisation.”

“In its ethos, it aims to give a voice to vulnerable groups within society and increase their potential as gainfully employed people contributing to society and the economy. It therefore aims to bridge the gap between companies and individuals in order to emerge untapped potential and create employment. Whilst the regulations will serve as an impetus for change, we believe that a win-win can be created through open communication, available expertise and a will to make a difference by all stakeholders.”

“Central to this is the individual who aspires to employment, inclusion and greater independence. The foundation’s role is to give them support and an opportunity to reach their fullest potential, whatever it may be.”

The Foundation goes a step further by offering on-the-job support through a “dedicated team of experts.” This helps to alleviate the pressure a person with a disability are likely to feel when starting a new job. It has chosen to widen its scope to include vulnerable people, which ties in to its commitment to help include all those sections of society who feel marginalised and isolated due to their circumstances.

The Foundation honours the late Lino Spiteri – who is known to have championed the inclusion of persons with a disability “through his role as Inspire President, writer and Member of Parliament.”

He was instrumental, having penned the report together with others, to mainstreaming children with disabilities in classrooms across the country. This is widely viewed as a quantum leap in Malta for persons with disabilities, due to the prevalent feeling of isolation which naturally occurs when kept separate from other persons.

He also led to the investment of resources which seek to support children with learning disabilities and difficulties in schools across the island.

 

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