Two agreements recently signed by the government and Aġenzija Sapport with two major NGOs – the Foundation for Respite Care Services’ Dar il-Kaptan and Fondazzjoni Wens –  are part of an ongoing social project that is helping to further change what used to be a mere ‘bed count’ into a veracity of real, independent lives of real persons in an increasingly caring society.

The €7.9 million in funds funnelled into these hard-working and dedicated organisations over the next three years will ensure the coverage of 52 beds in total but it will be 52 disabled persons plus their parents, guardians and carers who will chiefly feature in the process.

The Dar il-Kaptan agreement, for example, will cater for 17 beds backed by the foundation’s professional residential and day respite services which include full-week, weekend and overnight stays as well as a day service programme offered to members who need respite during the day.

It is only fair to observe that the new Dar il-Kaptan agreement funds (€4.2 million) are €2.5 million more than those allotted in the 2018 contract, an increase that most certainly reflects the Labour government’s enduring commitment to the cause of social inclusion and unrestrained support to such noble causes wherever and whenever needed.

The new €3.7 million agreement with Fondazzjoni Wens also sees half a million euros increase when compared to the 2018 contract. It covers Dar il-Wens and Dar l-Abbiltà, in Kalkara as well as Dar Merħba, in Fgura, three residential homes that offer services to persons with disability, providing them with a safe environment and a multidisciplinary team from Aġenzija Sapport which ensures they are protected and efficiently provided with a service of quality. A ‘bed count’ of 35 that equates with the ideal of independent living for 35 disabled persons who can go to work and return to their residence every day.

It is where residents receive optimal training to attain independent living skills as well as to develop their potential and enjoy their quality of life. The provision of Fondazzjoni Wens services that will benefit from the funds include accommodation, health and safety, food as well as activities that form an integral part of a typical day of their residents.


"Enhancing the quality of life of disabled persons leads to full participation in community life" - Julia Farrugia Portelli


It is with unbridled pride that I acknowledge the fact that the Ministry for Inclusion and Social Well-being on a daily basis works hard hand in hand with NGOs. As Aġenzija Sapport CEO Ruth Sciberras rightly said at the Fondazzjoni Wens signing, the agreement “further strengthens the collaboration between the two parties and also improves the processes involved in providing the service in the best interest of persons with disability”.

Is it enough? Can we rest on our laurels and hope for the best? Indeed not. There is still so much work to do. The achievement of social inclusion is not the result of an exercise in financial corroboration, however precious the funds that our NGOs receive and which go a long way towards ascertaining that the lives of persons with a disability, their families and their carers are fine-tuned and elaborated in a way that helps them being naturally absorbed into an embracing society.

On the part of that same society, however, there is a participatory role that it needs to play with the conviction that social inclusion is a complete and equality-based process that merits its place in 21st century thinking and fruition.

Enhancing the quality of life of disabled persons through innovative personalised support, expertise and advocacy effectively leads to full participation in community life, a share in that community’s everyday activities and a strong belief in one’s own potential at a time – and every time – when society has to update, reform and move forward as one. When equality is no longer a catchword but a truth genuinely gained and genuinely given.

Just counting beds is certainly neither the solution nor the desired strategy that puts one’s mind really at rest, but counting lives, real people’s lives and enabling them to forge ahead into an independent living that offers scope and a sense of human fairness is and should always be.

It is a part that we will continue to play with the courage of conviction and the sustenance of an electoral manifesto that we are bound by.

Julia Farrugia Portelli, Minister for Inclusion and Social Well-being