The Malta Independent 22 July 2024, Monday
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Average of 80 people seek shelter for free meals on weekends

Semira Abbas Shalan Sunday, 5 February 2023, 10:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

An average of 80 people go to shelters for free meals on weekends, while an average of 50 people visit the shelter on weekdays, a spokesperson for Dar il-Hena said.

Upon receiving reports of an increase in people who are going to the shelters for something to eat, The Malta Independent on Sunday sent questions to Fondazzjoni Dar il-Hena, to confirm whether there is an increase in people resorting to the shelters for their daily meals, presumably because they cannot afford it. Allegedly, these people also do not have anywhere to sleep.

A spokesperson for the shelters, Ian Galea, said that there has not been a noticeable spike in people coming to the shelter in recent times. There were also reports that the increase involves more men over women, particularly Maltese men in their 40s.

Galea said that the trend of more men using the shelters’ services than women has been observed since the initial days of their opening.

Dar il-Hena has been offering its services since July 2016. The Foundation has three shelters, two of which are emergency homeless shelters, with a third being a long-term residential shelter.

Galea said that the maximum capacity at one of the shelters, Dar Papa Frangisku, is of 22 people, while Dar Maria Dolores can hold eight people. The Foundation is run by the Ministry for Social Policy and Children’ Rights, Caritas Malta and the Alfred Mizzi Foundation.

“We have a male and female emergency shelter and generally we tend to accept almost all service users referred to us, except those who cannot enter the shelters due to behavioural issues in the past,” Galea said.

He said that the service users are allowed to stay at the shelters for six weeks, however, it also depends on the care plan agreed upon with assigned social workers, and the service users themselves.

Asked how many people come to eat at the shelters daily, Galea said that during weekdays, the shelter receives 50 service users on average, with an increase of an average of 80 people coming on weekends.

Asked to confirm if there has been an alarming increase of people coming to the shelters, Galea confirmed that the average bed nights for both Dar Papa Frangisku and Dar Maria Dolores have remained stable.

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