Hope and dignity through a soup kitchen

In the coming days, the Franciscans in Malta will be opening their doors to people who are marginalised in society and are struggling to make ends meet. The new soup kitchen project which is the brainchild of Fr Marcellino Micallef OFM was made possible through the financial support of the Planning Authority and the many volunteers who are pitching in their time


An old refectory built in 1575 and which forms part of the Franciscan’s friary has been given new life and will now serve to welcome and offer some respite for people who are ‘suffering in silence’.

Besides offering these people a daily meal and other physical needs, the place will also provide such persons with support and care, especially for those suffering from mental health issues, while assisting them on their spiritual journey.

The project, which received a financial grant of €303,000 from the PA’s Development Planning Fund (DPF) was unveiled by the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change & Planning Hon. Aaron Farrugia in the presence of the Chairperson of the Development Planning Fund, Perit Vincent Cassar, Fr Marcellino and the Valletta Local Council Mayor Mr Alfred Zammit.   

Fr Marcellino said “this project has long been needed. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to so many persons who keep coming to knock on the doors of our convent because they feel helpless. We want to breathe back dignity and hope in the lives of these people not only by providing them with free food, but we will offer them counselling services to help them reintegrate into society and have the coping skills to make a decent living for themselves and their families.” Fr Marcellino concluded that “we already started working on a new project which will complement the soup kitchen concept. We have recently acquired a property in the vicinity which will serve as a night shelter.”

Although the building was in good structural condition, however, extensive restoration works were needed on the walls and floor area so as to make the place not only welcoming but safe for all the patrons and volunteers who will frequent the place. Works also included the setting up of the main hall as a dining area, a kitchen area for the preparation of the food, a small office, storage, a small laundry and public convenience facilities.

On entering the Soup Kitchen from on Ursula Street, one is immediately welcomed with a recently installed sculpture by Gozitan artist Vince Caruana. The simple yet striking memorial commemorates the forgotten and unfortunate tragedy which happened in this same place nearly 200 years back. The fatal day was 11th February 1823, during Carnival time when 110 children were crushed to death in a stampede when poverty and hunger were rampant. The accident happened when some adults from the crowd that was leaving the carnival celebrations, mixed the group of children who were entering the convent to receive some free bread. Most of the children resided in Valletta or the Cottonera area.

Perit Vincent Cassar, Chairperson of the DPF said “This is a noble project as we are not only giving funds to preserve a historical building but thanks to Fr Marcellino and the Franciscan Order, we are offering dignity and a safe environment to homeless and poor people. “This project continues to show the Authority’s commitment to supporting public community projects which seek to improve the social and community life of residents within any given locality.”

The Planning Development Fund receives financing from a few different sources, with on-street parking fees being the most significant among them. Planning gains too make up a portion of the fund, whereby a developer of a sizeable new development is asked to make a financial contribution for the inconvenience caused in the locality where their development occurs. Also, a proportion of the revenue generated through applications for the regularisation of development is being directed to the fund.

The contribution is allocated to the locality where the development permit was been granted for it to be used on projects that improve community facilities and green areas.

For more information visit www.pa.org.mt.

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