The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

PA’s assistance to restore clubs helped them survive during pandemic

Saturday, 21 May 2022, 09:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

Over the past months, the Planning Authority (PA) said it has been at the forefront aiding all local clubs and każini, to ensure they survive the financial difficulties incurred during the pandemic and emerge ready to continue to carry out their crucial role within society.

Following the launch of the Irrestawra l-Każin Scheme last year, the PA received 84 submissions of which 72 were considered valid. While the każini that applied were predominantly local band clubs, a number of submissions were received from local football clubs, bocci clubs and other voluntary organisations.

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In total, the authority said it is funding close to €250,000 with works ranging from the restoration of the club’s façade including timber balconies and apertures, waterproofing, internal renovation works and the upgrading of certain facilities.

Minister Zrinzo Azzopardi said that through this initiative, support was given to these voluntary organizations to alleviate the financial burden they had to face during the pandemic. This is due to the fact that the maintenance of these buildings is a continuous one regardless of whether the club is open or closed for the public.

The minister concluded that, “this scheme is another positive initiative where the Planning Authority returns to the community funds raised from the application process. I believe that local clubs play a very important role in the community where they reach out to people of similar interests, gather diverse skills and serve as places of recreation."

Martin Saliba PA Executive Chairperson said “We must not underestimate the importance of our Każini – besides the cultural heritage that these organisations have within our Maltese society, they serve as places that bring people together, across age ranges and political persuasions, opening up possibilities and as a fora to explore new opportunities. Today the culture of Każini is rapidly changing and become more inclusive, especially when it comes to the growing number of women not only attending but at the forefront of these social hubs.”

He added “through the Irrestawra l-Każin initiative we have shown our support to these voluntary organisations by softening the financial burden that the pandemic has left them to face. Maintenance works on their properties still had to be carried out irrespective of whether they were closed for a significant number of months.”

Every town or village is home to an array of other clubs related to a sport, profession, religious organisation, cultural centre or a philanthropic cause. Każini and local clubs are clearly rooted in our community – they know what’s needed, how to reach people and how to respond quickly. They provide groups of like-minded people with a place where to develop, network, garner a skill, share their passion or simply serve as a means of companionship.

In December 2019, like a thief in the night, covid started effecting the lives and livelihood of many around the globe. Until covid hit our shores, the virus was an inconvenience. But when in the beginning of March 2020, locals started to show symptoms of the virus things started to change rapidly and robust social distancing measures and the closure of public places by the Public Health Authorities was inevitable. The social and economic costs of the pandemic have been many and varied. While the robust measures had to be introduced to prevent the spread of the disease, these same measures have not spared their consequences.

The temporary closure of all social clubs across the Island not only left these voluntary organisations without their regular income but left local communities experiencing an acute, severe sense of social isolation and disengagement.

 This scheme and the Irrestawra l-Faċċata scheme, which was addressed towards properties situated along a number of streets where levels of traffic are higher, are a subdivision of the ever popular Irrestawra Darek scheme which the PA had issued in 2017 for three consecutive years. These schemes, place the Authority as one of Malta’s major contributors towards making funds widely available to promote and safeguard our common heritage.

Through the Irrestawra Darek Scheme alone, the Authority made available €25million and assisted 355 first time buyers, 151 Grade 1 or 2 scheduled buildings, 42 voluntary organisations and 2058 private owners of residences within village core areas.

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