Since being launched in May 2020, the Student Solidarity Fund has financially assisted 13 students, providing them with help in the form of utility bill payments, rent payments, food, books and other studying supplies.
The Fund, set up to aid part or full-time UM students residing in Malta who are in financial dire straits due to COVID-19, is currently maintained by donations from staff members, other students and through contributions from outside the UM community as well.
Following the requests made by students in need of assistance, contact between them and Social Worker at the Health & Wellness Centre, Ms Donatella Pace Olivari, is established and a thorough assessment of each case is made, remotely.
The Student Solidarity Fund Committee then meets, also remotely, to discuss the recommendations made by Ms Pace Olivari and decides whether each case is eligible for assistance, and if it is, what kind of assistance can be given.
No cash payments are made to the affected students, but instead, in-kind donations are made via bills that are paid directly to the biller; cost of books and stationery is reimbursed and food is collected from the University of Malta Chaplaincy where it is assessed as required.
Ms Pace Olivari spoke to Newspoint, saying some of the individuals assisted so far are international students who were either let go of the part-time jobs they maintained alongside their studies, which helped pay for their living expenses whilst living in Malta, or who no longer could receive support from their family who lived abroad due to lack of finances. Others are Maltese students whose economic hardships were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these students’ cases are treated confidentially and student anonymity is maintained throughout the whole process.
After the students receive financial assistance, communication lines with the students are kept open in case they require additional help, financial or otherwise. Students are encouraged to get back in touch with Ms Pace Olivari should they require ongoing support.
“Getting some help through the Fund will not solve these individuals’ issues entirely, but it will alleviate some of the financial burden they are experiencing. This help additionally supports the individual's emotional and mental well-being. We see that a little help goes a long way”, Ms Pace Olivari said, before she urged the public to keep donating for future cases.
Donations can be made in any of the following ways:
• Via direct bank transfer in this account -
IBAN No: MT53VALL22013000000040010121298