A non-profit that gives micro-loans to Malta’s most vulnerable groups has warned of a flood of requests for help due to the pandemic.
Malta Microfinance gives loans of up to €2,500 for education, small business endeavours or as a means to escape unsuitable housing. They specialise in assisting single mothers, migrants and low-income households.
“We have been shocked by the levels of hardship being faced by Maltese and non-Maltese alike at this time,” the group said.
The MMF noted it has had to turn away dozens of people who turned to them in the wake of COVID-19 looking for support and assistance, but that did not meet its lending criteria.
“Significant increases in requests for support for immediate needs like nappies, food, fuel have shown how poor families are falling through the cracks.”
“There are also devastating reports of employment exploitation with temporary workers going unpaid through the COVID-19 crisis, having no written contracts, or being subjected to endless rotations of unpaid trial periods,” the MFF continued.
A lack of understanding from landlords with no leniency with rental payments, the MFF explained, was forcing vulnerable families into unsuitable living conditions.
“This has also led to a rise in those presenting at MMF with no fixed abode at all, exacerbating the issue of rooflessness in Malta,” it added.
But perhaps the most concerning issue involves individuals approaching the MMF as a means to escape domestic abuse, exacerbated by children spending more time indoors and thus more time at home with abusers.
All individuals and families that requested help but did not match the criteria needed for a loan were referred to other services for support.
Meanwhile, the non-profit urged authorities to act.
“We cannot sit by in silence without drawing attention to the increasing gaps and unmet needs of vulnerable members of our community.”
“It is essential that these issues be considered by policymakers and agency heads, as well as the general public, to ensure that all actions are taken,” it finished.
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