More than 100 social care professionals, including counselling representatives from the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) and students and staff from the University of Malta’s Department of Counselling, attended Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)’s first ever conference in Malta earlier this month. Themed ‘Trauma-informed practice in adolescent care’, the event was aimed at frontline professionals and NGOs working in the social welfare field.
With trauma-informed care, professionals assume that a person bears a history of trauma and suffers the negative impact of trauma-inflicted symptoms on their wellbeing.
The half-day conference, held under a collaboration between RMHC and FSWS, discussed how trauma-informed care allows professionals to create a safe space in which the client’s past or current traumas can be understood and processed so that the required support can be delivered.
Dr Mariella Mangion, Consultant Community Paediatrician and RMHC Malta board member outlined the effects of childhood trauma on the developing brain. The health characteristics of children care for in the community or residential homes were discussed by Dr Kevin Borg, Consultant Paediatrician within the Directorate for Alternative Care at FSWS. The effects of trauma-informed care on young people were examined throughout a presentation by Dr Roberta Attard, Clinical Psychologist and Head of Department of Counselling, University of Malta.
A panel discussion involving the keynote speakers and Ms Remenda Grech, Director of Alternative Care within FSWS ensued, during which participants were able to put questions to the panel.
A memorandum of understanding was later signed by RMHC Chairman Mr Martin Xuereb and FSWS Chief Executive Officer Mr Alfred Grixti. Under the agreement FSWS will provide its services to the community from RMHC’s 360-square metre Learning Centre in Qawra.
“RMHC’s mission is to provide opportunities for support and care to those lacking them,” Mr Xuereb explained. “Our Learning Centre has been designed specifically to host sessions and activities in a safe ambience to lend a helping hand to children, adolescents, and families. Professionals from FSWS will now have access to our centre’s resources and will be able to offer support services from the premises.”
Mr Grixti said: “Our team is looking forward to working in this state-of-the-art Learning Centre, and I honestly wish this set up was available years go. The sky is the limit on this one, and this conference would certainly not be the last discussion we have.”
Tonio Axisa, Executive Director of RMHC Malta, said: “Since its conception, RMHC Malta has supported more than 300 children and young people through its various services, and has hosted more than 250 professionals from various organizations. We are currently supporting 12 NGOs, the National Literacy Agency and the University’s Department of Counselling.”
The Malta Chapter of the Ronald McDonald House Charities is part of a global network that hosts programmes and services to children, young adults and their families in more than 62 countries. RMHC has enjoyed the support of McDonald’s owners, operators, suppliers, employees and customers around the world since 1974. The Malta chapter’s lead benefactor is Premier Restaurants Malta which operates nine McDonald’s restaurants across the Maltese Islands.
RMHC Executive Director Tonio Axisa outlines the charity’s work in Malta.
About Ronald McDonald House Charities in Malta
The Ronald McDonald House Charities Malta Chapter is committed to give children access to specialised support to enable them to pursue their education and enrich their lives. It creates, funds, and supports programmes to directly improve the health and wellbeing of children and young adults at its purpose-built Learning Centre in Qawra to serve children challenged by poverty, disability and learning difficulties. On its own and in partnership with other organisations, RMHC offers educational and therapeutic programmes to assist children and young people gain the core skills and competences necessary for adulthood.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities is an international non-profit network with a mission to keep families with sick children close to each other and to the care and resources they need (www.rmhc.org). McDonald’s has been the RMHC’s Mission Partner since the first Ronald McDonald House was built in Philadelphia in 1974. RMHC delivers programmes and services in more than 62 countries and regions and impacts the lives of millions of children and their families around the world every year.