The perks of EU life don’t stop with becoming an EU citizen – that’s just the start of it. Many projects around Malta and Gozo now also enjoy a piece of the EU funding cake. Ever since gaining membership, the Maltese government has been able to tap into the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, and the Cohesion Fund to raise the quality of life for citizens.
EU jargon? Maybe, but these funds can be translated into very tangible sights and experiences in our everyday life in Malta and Gozo. And with Europe Day coming up tomorrow, we want to highlight some of the awesome work that’s been done. Here are just a few of our favourites.
1. Sustainable tourism for Wied il-Mielaħ
Back in 2008, the Għarb Local Council applied for funding to help maintain the amazing Wied il-Mielaħ – you know, that natural Gozitan arch we’re all obsessed with now that the Azure Window is gone. With over half a million euros in funds, the Għarb Local Council’s aims included protecting the environmental heritage of Wied il-Mielaħ, improving access and safety, and publishing touristic material covering both the environmental and cultural aspects of Għarb.
2. Text-to-speech technology for the Maltese language
Siri, move over – Malta has MT2S. Successfully completed in 2012, MT2S (Maltese Text-To-Speech Synthesis) was the brainchild of the Foundation for Information and Technology Accessibility (FITA). With over €400,000 in funds, the project saw the development of a Maltese Speech Engine that could be integrated into existing softwares to provide a Maltese speech interface, including third-party software, with the added aim to benefit persons using assistive ICT.
3. Putting mental healthcare into practice
With everyone from the President to our very own Eurovision representative discussing the topic, the time to talk about mental health is now – and no one knows this better than the Richmond Foundation. In 2018, the Foundation launched the Mental Health First Aid For Youth project with the help of EU funding. It is aimed at equipping healthcare professionals, education workers, and Malta’s youth with training to educate local teenagers through peer-education programmes. The project also hopes to target those with difficulty tackling mental health issues, as well as revisiting the need for efficacious skillsets when working with vulnerable groups.
4. Breathing new life into MUŻA
If you’ve been looking for a way to class up your act without having to go that extra mile, look no further. Also known as the Mużew Nazzjonali tal-Arti, MUŻA is Malta’s newest museum for art, and is the flagship project for Valletta 2018 with a whopping €8,000,000 and counting being chipped in by the EU.
The museum is being housed in Valletta’s Auberge d’Italie where it promises to be the new gold-standard for retrofitting Maltese historic buildings including aims to be green-powered, and to rely solely on renewable energy sources.
5. Holistic training for healthcare professionals
The crux of this project is to ensure that training for everyone from nursing aides to consultant physicians includes building upon their excellent curriculum to include skills to deal with patients as a whole rather than simply treating the disease.
That may seem to be obvious at first, but working in healthcare is tiring AF. Mentally, physically – you name it. Despite all this, healthcare workers are expected to maintain an equally caring and respecting outward approach to each and every one of their patients and their relatives – and all this comes down to excellent training.
6. Promoting Chadwick Lakes as a site for eco-tourism
If you’ve never been to Wied il-Qlejgħa (a.k.a. Chadwick Lakes) before, what on earth have you been waiting for? If not to make up for tonnes of missed childhood memories, do it for the ‘gram!
So why did Chadwick Lakes end up getting funds from the EU you might ask? Eco-tourism is on the rise, but it’s as yet relatively untapped in the Maltese islands, and Chadwick Lakes is perhaps the perfect spot to get the ball rolling. The aim is to develop the site as a spot for eco- and natural heritage tourism, while maintaining sensitivity towards the valley’s biodiversity – a point which has been stressed heavily in the project’s aims. Long term goals also include the building of a nature park, restoring the local ecosystems, and rehabilitating the water storage systems.
7. Reimagining the Ta’ Qali Crafts Village
That one arts-and-crafts class you took when you were 7 and never thought you’d need again? Well, joke’s on you. With close to €8 million being put towards its redevelopment, the project hopes to create a true hub for Maltese artisans to showcase and produce local and traditional crafts. Additional aims include making the Ta’ Qali park more accessible to operators and visitors, as well as formalising the Crafts Village as a visitors attraction.
8. Embracing inclusivity and diversity in the workplace
Agenzija Sapport has received over €3 million to establish its INK programme. The person-focused inclusion project’s core strategy is focusing and maximising both the abilities and potential of persons with disability. Long-term aims include labour market inclusion, increasing social engagement, and connecting persons with disability with their employers to foster a holistic working relationship.
9. Developing a new regional museum for Gozo
If ever you needed another excuse to slip away for a quick weekend break to Gozo, here you go! The Ministry for Gozo has recently been granted over €3.5 million in funds for a new museum that will be tied to everything Gozitan, from culture to history. Aside from being a home to Gozitan artefacts, the museum also hopes to include exhibiting spaces for local artists, in a much-needed appraisal of local heritage.