pexels-alex-green-5699466

The factors that contribute to mental health problems

Mental health encompasses more than just the absence of illness; it reflects how individuals think, feel, and behave in their daily lives. While it may seem straightforward to define, addressing mental health issues can be complex. This is where mental health specialists play a vital role. They provide support and interventions for conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addictions, and other issues that impact thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Through their expertise, they help individuals navigate and overcome these challenges, promoting overall well-being and quality of life.

The impact of mental health extends into everyday life, often manifesting in diverse ways. Not only does it influence how individuals navigate daily tasks and interactions, but it also exerts a significant influence on their relationships and physical well-being. From managing stress to coping with challenges, mental health plays a fundamental role in shaping various aspects of a person’s life. Consequently, addressing mental health concerns is crucial for fostering resilience, nurturing healthy relationships, and promoting overall wellness.

These factors have the potential to trigger or worsen psychological distress. Take, for example, how depression can lead to feelings of isolation and being excluded from social circles. These aspects frequently signal the beginning of a depressive episode.

Often, people overlook the significance of prioritizing mental health as a means of safeguarding the life they lead. Achieving this entails striving for balance in various aspects of life. This balance encompasses the activities we pursue, our professional endeavours, familial relationships, pursuits that bring joy and fulfilment, as well as our responsibilities. Most importantly, it involves cultivating resilience to navigate the inevitable uncertainties and challenges that arise. By nurturing this equilibrium and resilience, individuals can fortify their mental well-being, empowering themselves to lead fulfilling and purposeful lives.Top of Form

This underscores the reality that conditions like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can evolve into more severe mental health disorders. If these issues are ignored or untreated, they have the potential to profoundly disrupt an individual’s life and daily functioning. It emphasizes the importance of early intervention and proactive measures to address mental health concerns, thereby safeguarding overall well-being and quality of life.

As previously noted, while the term “mental health” is commonly used by professionals, there’s an understanding among experts that numerous psychological conditions may have underlying physical origins or implications. This acknowledgment highlights the intricate interplay between mental and physical health, with conditions often influencing and impacting each other. It underscores the importance of considering holistic approaches to healthcare that address both mental and physical well-being for comprehensive and effective treatment.

For better clarity, let’s differentiate between mental health and mental illness. It’s crucial to pay attention to early signs that may lead to various mental and physical disorders.

What defines Mental Health ?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health signifies a state of mental well-being in which an individual can effectively cope with life’s stresses. It encompasses the capacity to develop one’s abilities through work, learning, and contribution, while also fostering a sense of belonging and participation within a community.

As outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health transcends the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. It entails cultivating a state of robust mental well-being, characterized by not only physical health but also a profound awareness of one’s capabilities and a sense of overall satisfaction in life.

This underscores the critical importance of safeguarding and fostering mental health, not only for individuals but also for our communities and societies at large, across all levels.

Why is it important to eliminate stigma?

Everything we’ve discussed underscores compelling reasons to dismantle stigma and recognize that seeking help is not indicative of weakness or failure. Countless individuals grapple with conditions or experiences that, with professional support, they can overcome to regain control of their lives.

For example, in the United States (US), the National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that one in every five individuals experiences mental health issues each year.

In 2020, data from the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that within the European Union, 14.2 million adults, comprising 5.6% of the population, grappled with psychological conditions. Concurrently, an alarming statistic emerged: 9.8 million individuals, constituting 4% of the populace, faced exceptionally severe conditions that significantly deteriorated their quality of life.

Moreover, the plight extended to the younger generation. Shockingly, one out of every five adolescents aged twelve to eighteen encountered profound struggles with mental disorders. Even more distressing was the revelation that 13% of children aged eight to fourteen were trapped by the same distressing conditions, underscoring a concerning trend of mental health challenges among the youth.

Among adults, the numbers paint a stark picture. Within the EU, 1.1% of the population contends with the challenging reality of schizophrenia, while 2.6% wrestle with bipolar disorder. Adding to this burden, a staggering 7% of the EU populace, totalling 16 million individuals, has grappled with at least one episode of depression within the same year.

But these figures only scratch the surface of the mental health landscape. An additional 18% of the population experiences anxiety stemming from a myriad of sources, including trauma, loss, and familial struggles. It’s crucial to recognize that these statistics don’t even capture those who develop disorders and conditions due to substance and alcohol abuse, further underscoring the magnitude of the mental health crisis.

This underscores the prevalent reluctance, hesitancy, and sense of isolation that individuals often experience when reaching out for help. This reluctance is deeply rooted in the pervasive stigma that surrounds mental health concerns, compelling individuals to suffer in silence rather than seek the support they desperately need. Despite acknowledging their need for care or assistance, individuals grapple with an enduring fear of judgment and discrimination, which leads them to neglect their own mental health needs and conditions. As a result, they may postpone seeking the essential care they require, thereby worsening their situation as the self-care they seek remains frustratingly out of reach.

This not only jeopardizes the well-being of the individual but also poses significant risks to those around them, often with even greater consequences. For loved ones living with or beside them, it can become an incredibly arduous and emotionally challenging journey.

What factors contribute to these risks?

While it’s clear that anyone can face such challenges, certain factors in a person’s background and living circumstances may heighten their vulnerability. Even individuals who seem to have the most supportive environments and familial backgrounds can find themselves susceptible to mental health issues.

Social or financial circumstances can indeed elevate the risk of mental health challenges. Therefore, it’s imperative to underscore the significance of maintaining balance from the very start and prioritizing it. Everything we carry within us, if not managed with care, can potentially lead to unforeseen experiences. It’s crucial to recognize that approaching life with an open mind and not viewing any single aspect as the sole focus is essential. This understanding is crucial for various reasons, emphasizing the multifaceted nature of our existence.

The primary factors that can lead to a certain lack of stability in our mental health are financial constraints or, better yet, the limitations that some may have, as well as socio-economic pressures, which, unwillingly, can start comparing what others are doing with what you can do.

The urban landscape where individuals reside can significantly influence these dynamics, underscoring the need for prioritization within national policies. It’s crucial to assess how specific environmental choices might affect the mental well-being of residents in the immediate vicinity of certain projects or developments. This consideration extends beyond just the residents’ health and welfare; it also encompasses the potential ramifications for government finances. Recognizing that mental health, or its absence, can directly impact fiscal matters adds another layer of importance to this discussion, warranting dedicated attention and deliberation.

Additional factors encompass employment status, social exclusion or inclusion, the extent of community support, educational attainment, living conditions, sexual orientation, experiences of abuse in childhood or adulthood, family loss, marital separations, chronic illnesses, and more. When such episodes occur during childhood or adolescence, children remain vulnerable, with a possibility that these experiences may continue to impact them into adulthood, potentially resulting in ongoing suffering.

Embracing boldness

Hence, it’s important to understand that even those who seem “normal” among their friends or within their family circle could be grappling with profound psychological distress internally and emotionally. If we overlook their struggles, they may persist in feeling isolated and unheard. Despite being surrounded by others; these individuals may still feel an overwhelming sense of loneliness. Recognizing this reality is paramount.

In the journey of life, we all face moments when we need a helping hand, regardless of the challenges we encounter. Recognizing that seeking support is not a sign of weakness, but rather an acknowledgment of our shared humanity, is crucial. Whether it’s your spouse, a friend, or a professional, assistance is available, waiting to be sought. So, take that courageous step forward, not just for yourself, but for the cherished ones around you. By embracing the support available, you pave the way for a brighter, more fulfilling life journey together. Remember, courage is the beacon guiding us through the darkest of times towards a brighter tomorrow!

 

Mario Fava
President

Read More
pexels-quintin-gellar-636164

The factors that may contribute to suicidal thoughts

Suicide is not an unavoidable outcome; rather, it is often preventable. Crucially, tackling stigma and delving into the intricate web of factors that contribute to this risk are essential steps in implementing effective measures and protective strategies. Research indicates that understanding and addressing the complexities of individual circumstances is key to identifying and supporting those at risk.

Statistics

Statistics reveal a somber reality: in the United Kingdom, the loss of 115 lives to suicide every week is a stark reminder of the magnitude of this issue. Shockingly, one out of every five individuals in the UK grapples with suicidal thoughts. Even more alarming is the fact that approximately one in every twenty individuals will take the drastic step of attempting suicide. Adding to this grim picture, on a global scale, a person succumbs to suicide every forty seconds, highlighting the urgency of addressing this widespread concern. Astonishingly, this frequency equates to the annual toll of deaths from war or homicide, underscoring the profound impact of suicide on societies worldwide.

What leads to this phenomenon?

It’s a troubling reality that one in every five individuals contends with or contemplates suicide. Yet, research underscores the possibility of prevention. The setting in which these thoughts emerge, whether it be the home, workplace, or community, is pivotal. When negative experiences, emotions, and circumstances pervade within the familial, professional, or societal spheres, coupled with feelings of isolation, the notion that death is the sole remedy to alleviate suffering and negativity becomes deeply entrenched in the individual’s psyche.Despite this, it’s essential not to conjecture about the emotional state of others facing similar challenges or to downplay the circumstances that could lead to such struggles. Undoubtedly, each of us knows someone, whether directly or through a friend or family member, who has endured such distressing experiences. It’s crucial not to pass judgment on the individual or their family.

We must avoid the error of prejudging individuals solely based on factors like lack of education, financial hardship, or living alone. It’s crucial to recognize that individuals facing these circumstances may indeed be more vulnerable to such temptations. While these factors do play a significant role, research underscores that the absence of supportive social connections, stable employment, or a supportive network increases the likelihood of reaching this point. However, it’s important to acknowledge that anyone, regardless of their background, can experience conditions like depression or anxiety. These struggles are not exclusive to any particular group, and no one should bear the burden alone.

Anticipated Risks

Just as with everything else, not every experience is impacted in the same manner when encountering specific situations. Individual reactions vary significantly in different circumstances. These situations encompass personal, social, community, and relational aspects. What are these diverse risks that we frequently identify before they escalate too far?

Personal Risks

Navigating life’s challenges can be especially taxing for individuals facing a multitude of personal risks. These include:

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • History of depression or mental illness
  • Chronic illness or health problems
  • Legal or criminal issues
  • Financial or employment problems
  • Unstable housing
  • Substance abuse or alcohol misuse
  • Past experiences of negative childhood events
  • Victimization and exposure to violence
  • Loss of hope for the future

 

Social Risks

Stigma associated with seeking mental health care

  • Easy access to means to commit suicide
  • Poor media reporting on suicide or its absence

 Community Risks

  • Lack of access to education and support
  • Community violence
  • Historical trauma in the community
  • Discrimination
  • Cultural maladjustment failure
  • Exclusion

 

Risks in Relationships

  • Bullying
  • Abuse of intimate family members such as parents or children
  • Breakdown in marital relationships
  • Relationship violence
  • Social or familial isolation
  • Experience of suicidal thoughts within the family
  • Breakdown in communication rapport with children, parents, or other loved ones

Perceptions

Misconceptions can be highly misleading, often rooted in a form of ignorance about the subject. These misperceptions usually arise from individuals who genuinely lack a deeper understanding.

Consider the common belief that asking someone if they are feeling suicidal might implant the idea of suicide in their minds. This notion, however, is far from accurate. In reality, approaching someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts with sensitivity and concern can be profoundly helpful. It communicates to them that there is someone who genuinely cares about their well-being. It’s not about suggesting the idea of suicide but rather about opening up a dialogue and offering support. This approach can play a crucial role in fostering understanding and potentially saving lives.

Another common perception is that when an individual speaks about attempting suicide, they are simply seeking attention. Alternatively, there’s the belief that if someone is seriously contemplating suicide, there’s little that can be done because the decision has already been made. You might occasionally hear people argue that it’s impossible to dissuade someone from sending certain signals indicating their intent to commit suicide. Perhaps you’ve also encountered the idea that those who take their own lives are selfish, solely concerned with themselves and oblivious to the aftermath they leave behind. Additionally, some may believe that once someone considers ending their life, they will persist in that mindset indefinitely, without hope for recovery.

This is an absolute misconception. Discussing suicide does not imply encouragement for those contemplating it or experiencing distress. On the contrary, the more openly we address the topic, the more we work to dismantle the stigma surrounding seeking help. Asking direct questions is far simpler than assuming everything is fine because we assume a particular individual would never consider such thoughts. When someone in this vulnerable state encounters someone willing to engage in conversation and inquire about their well-being, they may initially feel helpless. However, this interaction can demonstrate that there are people who genuinely care about them. This realization increases the likelihood that they will recognize the availability of help and understand that support is easily accessible and readily obtainable.

Signs of distress

Each and every one of us is obligated to pay attention and offer assistance, or refer individuals who may find themselves in such situations. Individuals experiencing these thoughts often, more often than not, will exhibit signs of being isolated and excluded, even from casual discussions. In some instances, the intent may be premeditated, and this could also be done to make the victim’s close contacts aware that there has been a change in the individual’s attitude or behaviors.

The significance of every spoken word often surpasses our awareness, as we cannot always discern the depth of stress or anxiety another person may be experiencing. Hence, it becomes imperative for us to exercise caution in our choice of words, the tone we employ, and the approach we adopt. It’s more than merely displaying empathy; it’s about understanding that by sharing our experiences and what our close ones are enduring, we enhance our ability to recognize early signs of distress.

Taking occasional pauses amidst the whirlwind of life could prove invaluable. These moments allow us to delve deeper into our interactions, to listen more intently to each other, and to genuinely inquire about someone’s well-being without making assumptions. Because when we make time for one another and for the lives we lead, it undoubtedly enriches us all.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

Read More
pexels-vie-studio-7005332

Mental Health in The Community

In a world increasingly shaped and dominated by digital systems, the significance of the support that communities can provide for mental well-being cannot be overlooked. While professional assistance and medication undoubtedly remain crucial, what emerges from human interaction facilitated in a community support context is of paramount importance.

This is what we will be discussing in this article: how the impact of a cohesive and tolerant community, along with experiences that can easily be shared among us, leads to the establishment of a foundation with a healthy level of emotional resilience.

The need for us to connect effectively

Human beings inherently have a need and a desire to connect and feel a sense of belonging to something or someone. When social bonds are strong, they not only fulfill emotional, social, and psychological needs but also serve as a buffer against life’s many challenges. In moments of stress, anxiety, or depression, knowing that there are members in the community where you live can give you courage and provide support independently of the obligations towards their own families. This support doesn’t only come from immediate family but also from genuine friends who want to be there for you and listen to what you have to say.

As members of the human race living in society, we should feel this connection within us and understand that one person with social problems can also lead to reaching out to more negative people if we are unable to provide help.

Reducing stigma and isolation

Certainly, one of the biggest obstacles to seeking help for mental health issues is the fear of isolation and stigma. Therefore, it is crucial that communities have platforms that facilitate discussions and exchange of experiences to overcome this barrier and encourage more people to seek help before it’s too late. When a person feels supported and realizes they are not alone, they are more comfortable seeking help and talking about the problems they are facing. This leads to open, honest, and mature conversations so that the individual feels a sense of belonging to that community as well.

The sense of belonging

We’ve discussed the importance of a sense of belonging and how being part of a community contributes to one’s self-esteem, ultimately enabling a person to truly believe in their own value. This understanding stems from the fact that others take an interest in how one feels, their challenges, and therefore, this sense of belonging sends a powerful message that even in the face of significant challenges, everyone is valid and capable of succeeding in the life they choose to live. When a person feels valued and accepted, it’s more likely that they’ll develop a conviction about the importance of self-evaluation and the significance of embracing and accepting who they are.

Experiences and empathy

The strength of community support emerges from the sharing of experiences and empathy that members of the same community can offer to one another. When individuals facing similar challenges and problems come together and talk, they provide immense support to each other, extending beyond mere sympathy. This leads to a sense of not feeling alone because more than just seeing a community “sympathize” with these individuals, we witness an empathetic community ready to listen, understand, and care. This sensitivity reinforces the belief of individuals seeking help that there are indeed those interested in them and that there are people in the community willing to provide all necessary assistance without passing judgment on their past or present. This also contributes to the creation of a more resilient and interconnected community, where one person’s challenges are everyone’s challenges.

Emotion and resilience

Community support serves as a stable “anchor” during times of emotional upheaval, fostering a safe space for individuals to express their feelings and receive empathy in return. This exchange not only offers emotional relief but also demonstrates resilience in action, as individuals navigate through challenging periods. Such platforms play a crucial role in promoting empathy and showcasing practical examples of resilience. Moreover, sharing experiences allows for collective learning, contributing to a deeper understanding of resilience within the community and empowering individuals to tackle challenges effectively.

How can a Local Council involve itself in all of this?

To address stigma, which still permeates this sector, open and honest discussions at the community level are necessary to foster a general sense of acceptance for mental health. Local councils, through various platforms, have a social obligation to the community to ensure space for this process. This can also be achieved through initiatives of diverse campaigns within society. When an individual feels comfortable speaking about their experiences on one of these platforms, it fosters a tremendous sense of acceptance and personal development. Local councils should not retreat from this responsibility by merely paying lip service, as doing so would only perpetuate the problem. Instead, they should act as catalysts to ensure they embrace the true meaning of inclusivity in the community.

Let’s explore a welcoming environment

To support individuals facing these challenges, it’s essential to create a welcoming environment where they feel safe to speak up and share their experiences. This encouragement empowers them to become active members of the community, free from prejudice or stigma, rather than feeling excluded and isolated at home. Such an environment fosters confidence, enabling individuals to step out of their comfort zones and contribute to the broader community. By reducing negative attitudes and discrimination, we can stand in solidarity with these individuals and collectively build a more inclusive society.

Resources

Communities can function as central hubs for mental health resources, bringing together various stakeholders such as professionals, experts, individuals with lived experience, and relevant organizations. When a Local Council effectively coordinates these parties, it optimizes resource utilization and increases awareness about mental health issues. This collaborative effort results in a wider array of tools available to support those seeking help, ultimately improving the likelihood of successful outcomes.

Activities

Once individuals have been equipped with essential information on accessing support, a welcoming environment has been established, communication platforms have been set up, and resources have been pooled, the focus can shift to facilitating direct engagement. Organizing community activities not only makes individuals feel valued but also integrates them into the fabric of the community. These activities offer chances to connect with new people, potentially from diverse backgrounds, and promote collaboration within and across localities. This collaborative approach can extend regionally, strengthening the sector and enhancing support networks.

Digital communities

As local leaders, we must also consider the possibility that individuals may choose or prefer to seek assistance online. It is imperative to recognize this trend, as it may indicate a growing segment of our community who feel more comfortable seeking help in this manner. Moreover, it underscores the importance of ensuring that any platforms, activities, or environments we create prioritize virtual accessibility for these community members. This approach can also support those who may lack access to other resources. By implementing robust online support systems and fostering a secure digital environment, we can better serve our community and adapt to evolving needs.

Conclusion

As we can see, community support and engagement are crucial in addressing this challenge of mental health. It’s essential for interaction, understanding each other better, sharing our experiences, maximizing our limited resources, and affirming human dignity for all.

I believe that Local and Regional Councils play an important role in all of this, and I hope that we can work together with experts in the field to establish a safe, supportive, and empathetic framework where more people feel comfortable stepping forward and seeking help. The Association of Local Councils will be exploring how it can facilitate and initiate these community services, with the assistance and involvement of experts in the field.

 

Mario Fava
President

Read More
pexels-catherine-sheila-2409022

Social factors enhancing the quality of waste separation

As the global population continues to grow and urbanization expands, the issue of waste management becomes increasingly pressing. To address this challenge effectively, it is vital to establish waste separation systems, foster circular economies, and promote material recycling to reduce the need for new production. Moving towards a more circular economy requires concerted efforts, collaboration, active public participation, and a genuine commitment to environmental stewardship.

In this endeavor, Regional and Local Councils, in partnership with the Central Government, play a pivotal role. Local Councils, being the authorities closest to the residents, should create ongoing platforms for engaging with the public. It is essential not only to convey the significance of individual involvement but also to highlight the environmental impact of responsible waste management. This is an integral part of the civic and social responsibility that each of us holds towards future generations. Furthermore, effective waste separation systems are only meaningful if the government provides efficient infrastructure and diverse waste management options that empower residents to manage their waste effectively.

It is crucial to emphasize that waste generators should have a say in how their waste is disposed of. This responsibility lies with the Councils, as they are tasked with conveying this message to the residents. Providing informative and educational materials is essential, and offering alternative waste disposal options tailored to individual needs is equally critical.

Let’s delve into the proposal put forth by the Local Councils Association, referred to as “collection points.” What are these “collection points”?

A “collection point” is a specifically designated area equipped with colour-coded bins to match the garbage bags commonly used for waste disposal, namely the black, green, and white bags. These bins may also feature compartments for paper and metal disposal. Furthermore, there are cases where distinct “bring-in-sites” are established, a concept I will explain in more detail.

The key distinction lies in the fact that “collection points” are linked to specific streets, and residents living on those streets are granted access to the bins through personalized cards. These bins should be within a reasonable distance, not exceeding 200-300 meters from residents’ homes. Residents on these streets can access the bins at their convenience, without time restrictions. For instance, if the black bin is collected twice a week, residents can access the black bin twice a week, and similarly for the white bin collected thrice a week.

These sites should also be equipped with technology that allows the Council to collect data, including the bin fill levels, residents’ usage patterns, and when bins need to be emptied.

This data is invaluable, as it enables the Council to identify cases where a resident may be exclusively using the black bin, indicating a lack of waste separation. Conversely, when all bins are utilized in proportion to waste generation, it suggests that waste separation is effective. This data also helps Councils identify areas where additional awareness campaigns and enforcement may be necessary. It can also assist residents who, for various reasons, cannot adhere to the designated waste collection times set by the Council, ensuring fair and flexible waste management. In a system and structure like this, it’s difficult to claim unfair treatment when facing penalties for improper waste disposal because there are ample alternatives available, leaving no room for excuses regarding adherence to the prescribed waste collection schedule or timing for each household.

Upon implementation, this approach offers further advantages. By securing agreements with residents, the Council can obtain approval for these specific streets or sections thereof, allowing for a staggered waste collection process rather than simultaneous pickups for all households. Consequently, this strategy mitigates traffic congestion, optimizes the usage of collection trucks on the road, and contributes to reduced emissions, as waste collection becomes notably more efficient. This adjustment should be considered once the system is operational and following consultations with the affected residents.

When this proposal was initially introduced in 2017 and subsequently revised and made more current in 2019, during that period (2017-2019), there were individuals who did not grasp the way this operates, and some were quick to assume that such a system could not be implemented in our country. Today, it appears that there are far fewer individuals unwilling to listen and evaluate.

Consequently, I maintain that it is imperative to grant Local Councils the opportunity to invest in such projects through dedicated financial allocation. This is of utmost importance as endeavors like these alleviate our streets from the disruptive noise of early morning waste collection and provide residents with enhanced mobility options for pedestrians. It is crucial not to underestimate the advantages this offers, as it reduces the inconveniences experienced and the unsightly sight of accumulating waste in neighbourhoods until the entire collection process is concluded.

I cannot claim that such a model is universally applicable, but it is essential to begin investigating potential opportunities where it is viable. A tangible illustration can be found in Gozo, where both locals and weekend visitors from Malta often vacate farmhouses, leaving black bags of waste they wish to dispose of a week later. Envision the possibility of establishing similar waste collection sites in coordination with the owners of these farmhouses or apartments. Locations like San Lawrenz, Gharb, and Ghasri could collaborate to invest in a shared facility, for instance.

Numerous opportunities and solutions exist. Ultimately, it hinges on people’s receptiveness and the financial support needed for the implementation of comparable initiatives by our Regional and Local Councils, which hold the responsibility for waste management.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More
caravans_2.1

A crucial government decision – national political decision on the use of caravans

During the last days we have assisted to a very important decision taken by the central government towards the suspension of an application by Infrastructure Malta for a temporary caravan site despite the various comments on the rights and obligations of caravan owners. On the contrary one would also listen to various residents’ rights towards a free access to our beaches. Many are those caravan owners who during the summer period would occupy our beaches without leaving any foreshore access. For the general benefit and interest there should be various open discussions with different stakeholders the outcome of which could lead to better solutions in the interest of everybody.

 

Introduction

One needs to kick off from the point that not each locality has the benefit of open recreational spaces for its residents.  Moreover, there are a large number of families who live in apartments without an adequate balcony, yard or garden for their children to recreate themselves; therefore, the number of recreational zones is somehow imperative. We need to understand and take care of the social and recreative aspects of our residents; it transpires that a number of families can’t afford  a decent residence and would instead publicly occupy caravan sites, with the latter being their only shelter.

One has to exercise caution and adopt a wider approach to avoid conflicts amongst those with different priorities for the use of the same land including farmers.

Rural zones with lesser population, agricultural zones and natural resources are very scarce in Malta hence we should focus more on our priorities.

In order to avoid conflict, there should be a holistic plan in place when dealing with protected land, camping, hiking and picnic sites.  There needs to a clear distinction between open country spaces and coastal area spaces to avoid undue pressure on the latter.

This is considered to be a seasonal pressure; coastal areas might bear higher undue pressure during the summer months and could be the cause of conflict amongst those occupying the space with caravans and other residents who would visit the area for a couple of hours for recreational purposes. It would be unfair that the same individuals would hijack public zones and grounds for long periods.

One has to distinguish between structures that are trailer driven and electric camper vans.

 

Priorities

Undoubtedly, many believe that there has to be particular spaces allocated for this type of hobby. If this would be the case, there has to be an understanding of what is best for our country, especially for localities which are designated to host this recreational concept. Are we opting for smaller spaces in a larger number of sites or are we going for fewer but larger sites? Would we be seeking and understanding the impact this would have on the tourism industry? Are we seeing to the fact how these coastal sites could create conflict with the use of slipways not just because these would be obstructed, but also because of the additional issues of boat trailers’ owners who would want to take their boats to and from the sea through the boat ramps. Are we planning law enforcement?  This should be the point for a holistic discussion which the government has wisely decided upon.

Undoubtedly, smaller spaces scattered around the island create less impact than larger ones which are however fewer. This consideration is not just about the visual impact but also about the impact on the infrastructure, the overall upkeep, drainage system, water supply etc. I believe that in larger sites one needs to carry out an environmental impact assessment.  On the other hand, smaller sites scattered around the island are more difficult to be managed by the authorities.

 

The Local Council’s involvement

As like other matters happening in our localities, we have to understand the involvement of our Local Councils. It is a fact that caravan sites do create certain issues and very often police forces would need to be called in to take over situations which at times would go beyond control.

We, as a nation and society, are barely disciplined to protect the heritage that we own and which we are our bound to pass on to our future generations.

It is highly important that the Local Councils are to be involved in the making of such policies.  This is due to the fact that the Local Councils are the closest from all entities to the residents and their locality; elected members can easily understand the challenges of their residents since they reside with them round the clock. These situations are to be used to our advantage thus, because whatever is implemented can then be rarely opposed.

Baħar iċ-Ċagħaq, Salini, Żonqor and Żejtun are some of the few challenging zones that come to mind. We have to carefully keep in mind other camping and picnic zones where in most of the situations one finds illegal structures that were meant to be temporary however ended up being permanent. These situations create conflict with the daily temporary users of the area.  This brings us back to the argument on the importance of law enforcement for the right balance of land usage.

 

Land permits and usage

One must clearly differentiate between temporary and short-term permits.  According to my current understanding, nowadays, there are only temporary permits without a clear indication of their expiry.  When considering a national policy will we be delving upon the issuance of daily, weekly or monthly permits? Should granted permits be automatically renewed following their expiry? Is it just that a caravan owner would leave his own car parked in the caravan space so that same would self-reserve his own space upon his return the following weekend? Is it fair that there isn’t better use of such public spaces with a fair chance of the same space being enjoyed by the public at large? Is it fair and just that some may choose to literally hijack the coastal area for the summer period leaving no proper access to the residents and hotel guests? Should there be an effective alternating system in the issue of permits, with a proper and organized waiting list for each indicated caravan site?

Each site has to be managed by an appointed site manager who will ensure that such abuse won’t happen. This role will be the communication link between the Local Council, the authorities and the caravan owners themselves. The latter should appoint an Administrator from amongst themselves for the sake of a faster and more efficient level of communication. I strongly believe that the Administrator and the site Manager can very efficiently coordinate a booking system that allocates booking slots and thus avoid over-crowding; this is beneficial both for the caravan owners and for the same site to be publicly enjoyed.

One should consider how this model could be jointly developed with the private sector where the government would appoint private companies to administer these sites.

I believe that these questions could stir a sound and interesting discussion for the proper identification of the most suitable mechanism for the running of similar sites.

 

New niche in the tourism industry

A holistic plan for this sector in the long run could create a new niche for the tourism industry. For this to be operationalised there needs to be a sight energy plan which should preferably be derived from clean and alternative sources, an infrastructure of rapid charging pillars, new drainage systems, water supply and other sanitary services including strong internet connections and other daily necessities for individuals to avoid unnecessary daily commuting.  It would be ideal should these camping sites be promoting local produce; this would give higher visibility and promotion to the local culture and traditions.  Such authentic promotion would give Maltese sites added advantage over European ones.

Should Malta be looking towards such concept we have to ensure a safe and sound transport connectivity between the airport, the caravan sites and Malta’s main attractions including Ċirkewwa, Valletta, Mdina and Kottonera.

These sites should bear sufficient information on pathways and rural cycling routes leading to certain areas of interest like Rabat, Dingli, Qrendi/Żurrieq, Siġġiewi/Għar Lapsi, Marsaxlokk/Tas-Silġ and others.

In such zones one could possibly consider the cultivation of fresh herbs for self-consumption.

All of these initiatives give our sites a local particular identity which would eventually attract tourists who would be specifically looking for these types of surroundings for their vacation.

 

Conclusion

These sites could provide a twofold experience to the tourists and local travellers; it’s either an unforgettable positive experience or otherwise a totally negative experience even to those who would not make use of such space.

Therefore, in each intervention one has to ensure that spaces which are designed to specifically cater for caravans should ensure higher standards of hygiene, protection of the environment, security and accessibility.

I believe that everyone should be given the opportunity to hobby caravan enthusiasts to be out and about, however this hobby has to be in conformity with the natural surroundings and those living in the area.

In all this there has to be total synergy and communication between the government entities and agencies for works to be carried out during the most appropriate periods. It would not make sense at all that structural works and sites identification are carried out during peak months when such sites would be high in demand and full of people as this could unnecessarily leave a negative impact.

I must say that political commitment coupled with proper planning and total synergy between all parties involved, towards this ever-growing sector could undoubtedly expand and generate public revenues.

 

 

Mario Fava
President

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More
Rc0b60920f87b0a072243a10e0a3877b2

Local Enforcement – LESA

The Local Enforcement System Agency was officially launched in 2015 by virtue of L.N. 153 of 2015, under the terms of Section 36 of the Public Administration Act, Cap. 497. As an Executive Agency of the Government of Malta. The main function of the Agency is to provide the enforcement of laws, regulations, or Bye-laws and review of the work of local enforcement.

As part of the agency’s corporate social responsibility initiatives,LESA reinvests 1 million euros every year in the community. Since its inception, a total of 6 million euros have been invested in various community projects, over the span of six years. Lesa sees the safety of the community as an important value and to this effect, we aim to protect and safeguard the respective local communities. Apart from enforcement operations, Lesa widened its services of assistance in performing various tasks such as transport management services, school shepherding, assistance in traffic collisions, heavy vehicle/boat escort during transportation from one place to another. Through its outreach program, LESA also launches regular educational campaigns in collaboration with schools, local councils, and other stakeholders.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, LESA was one of the key players both in the enforcement of the regulations issued by the Superintendent of the Public Health and in the assisting in the distribution of medicines for both POYC and MDH patients. During the first weeks of the pandemic, community officers also helped combat the spread by delivering groceries to people who were in quarantine and could not leave their home.  In total, around 4500 individuals inMalta benefitted from these services. By assisting the local health authorities, Lesa was also one of the main distributors of COVID-19 vaccines to all elderly people’s homes and also in vulnerable people’s households both in Malta and Gozo.

Due to the emerging responsibilities and duties entrusted to the agency, investment in its human resources has been of utmost importance. In this regard, Lesa continuously invests in the training of its officers and yearly increases its workforce through the recruitment processes. Successful candidates will participate in an intensive 9-week training program, in collaboration with the Academy of Disciplined Forces. Upon completion,, each successful candidate will be officially licensed as a community officer.

Being aware of changes in the new technological world, Lesa is continuously investing in the latest technologies in communication, transportation, and safety to be of the best possible service to the community it serves in.

https://les.gov.mt/

Read More
learning-English-malta-nature-1080×500

Eko-Skola – Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE)

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) is an international programme coordinated by Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE) and represented locally by Nature Trust Malta. The programme empowers young people to take an educational stand on environmental issues they feel strongly about and gives them a platform to articulate these issues through the media of writing, photography or video. The programme develops participants’ skills and knowledge about the environment, enhances communication and citizenship skills, individual initiative, teamwork, critical analysis, social responsibility, and leadership abilities. Students follow the four step methodology: investigate, research solutions, report and disseminate. Apart from the annual competition, students also have the opportunity to work with foreign students, report international conferences and acquire international certification. Integration with the school curricula is also highly encouraged. 

YRE Website: yremalta.org YouTube Channel mPower4Change.  Updates and schools inputs can also be followed on the dedicated Facebook page Youngreporters Malta

Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this email.

Read More
veg box 2

Healthy Produce

The bodies were lying in the streets un-buried. All railroads and vessels carrying food and such things into the great city had ceased runnings and mobs of the hungry poor pillaging.

Read More
#thegov_button_667994704cd60 { color: rgba(255,255,255,1); }#thegov_button_667994704cd60:hover { color: rgba(255,255,255,1); }#thegov_button_667994704cd60 { border-color: transparent; background-color: rgba(207,23,43,1); }#thegov_button_667994704cd60:hover { border-color: transparent; background-color: rgba(97,162,26,1); }