HM Government of Gibraltar is very pleased to welcome PossAbilities and to have allocated the former St Martin’s School site for this purpose.
Government believes that it is important to work closely with NGOs in developing the provision for Special Needs in Gibraltar, and to work alongside and complement existing services and has been in discussion with PossAbilities for some months.
Government has invested heavily in providing for special needs children. This has included the recent completion and opening of the new St Martin’s School and Early Birds Nursery, and the continuing development of the Learning Support Facilities (LSFs) in both Primary and Secondary schools. Separately, the continued investment in the services provided by the Care Agency at Dr Giraldi Home, St Bernadette’s Resource Centre and community support is unprecedented. The Government also supports NGOs who work in this field such as Special Olympics.
Recognising the need to coordinate between departments and agencies, the Government, again very recently, opened a Special Needs and Disability co-ordination office at No 6 Convent Place.
Government has always recognised the need for more support in general, including for children below Nursery age. In this and other areas the Little Smiles Charity was worked, closely with Government in recent months. This collaboration with an NGO has proved highly successful, not least seen by the activities provided by Little Smiles both during times when educational facilities have been closed for reasons of COVID-19, and during the transition to the new St Martin’s as was the support provided by the Care Agency.
The work of this new Charity will complement the work already being done by several Government Departments and Agencies, much as Clubhouse Gibraltar and Cancer Relief, who also receive grants from the Government, work closely with Government in other areas of care.
PossAbilities will be able to efficiently and enhance and complement the provision already being given and will no doubt make a significant difference to the lives of many individuals with Special Educational Needs and their families.
Government continues in discussion with other NGOs, including the Special Needs Action Group (SNAG), in exploring further ways in which to support special needs provision throughout the community.
While there were other plans for the old St Martin’s site, the Government believes that there can be few better causes that this one to justify a change of proposed use.
Minister with Responsibility for Disabilities, the Hon Samantha Sacramento, said: ‘I am very excited with this new project. I have been meeting with PossAbilities director’s Nicole Stewart and Hannah Pilcher over the last few months, and they in turn have been working closely with the CEO of the Care Agency and the Head of the Ministry for Equality who have been providing support so that the introduction of this new initiative is successful and is complementary to those services that already exist. The energy and enthusiasm with which this project was presented to us and the collaboration that we have had means that we look forward to another development in the enhancement of facilities available to those with learning disabilities.’