As everyone is trying to cope with difficulties in adapting to changes brought about be Covid-19, services working with homeless individuals had growing concerns about the challenges that these clients are facing, especially as staying at home implies that everyone has a ‘home’.
Through the Platform Against Homelessness, initiated by YMCA Malta, 16 services working with vulnerable individuals have come together to share their concerns and work on ways in which they can help find solutions for these individuals and families. The platform acknowledges the need for a centralised referral system whereby these clients could be referred to a quarantine facility, and their needs met, along with safeguarding the needs of current residents in shelters and their staff.
The platform entered into discussions with the Ministry for Social Accommodation (MSA).
“We received outstanding support where MSA acted as a ‘binder’ in order to establish a central inter-ministerial coordinating team in order to tackle homelessness holistically. This solution-oriented approach included extensive discussions and the involvement of the Superintendent of Public Health who immediately welcomed the creation of a specific health protocol for a quarantine period for the homeless; SCSA whose proactive legal notice (LN74/2020) enabled the immediate operational side of three shortlisted homes which are to be used for self-isolation prior entering a homeless shelter; and The Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity and FSWS, who listened willingly and supported the platform in achieving a coherent referral system,” a statement reads.
Within a matter of days, this collaboration resulted in the creation of a separate process for swabbing, the creation of a centralised referral system and the provision of transportation for those who do not have their own means. Quarantine facilities have also been confirmed and are being finalised, which will be available for these vulnerable individuals when faced with homelessness.
These homes will act as an interim phase from when the homeless person contacts the Helpline 179 and until they enter a relevant homeless shelter or temporary accommodation. This is in compliance with the health directives of containment and social distancing.
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