The Hon Albert Isola
The Gibraltar Finance Centre has made substantial strides in enhancing its services and rebounding from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are notable accomplishments and initiatives implemented in connection to the Financial Services Industry.
Gibraltar Insurance Sector
The Gibraltar Insurance sector has experienced strong growth, with total gross premium income estimated to have reached approximately £7 billion in 2022, marking the first time it has reached this milestone. Additionally, two of the Big 4 accountancy firms estimated that Gibraltar motor insurers’ collective share of the UK motor insurance market exceeded 30% in 2022, also a first. The Government continues to promote and position Gibraltar as a hub for new insurance opportunities and classes of business.
Gibraltar insurers underwriting pet insurance have seen significant growth in recent years, estimated to account for approximately 20% of the UK pet insurance market. Gibraltar insurance intermediaries focused on travel insurance have also achieved remarkable success, with their platforms now processing close to 30% of all travel insurance policies sold in the UK.
The Government fully supports the newly announced network “Women in Insurance” and wishes it every success in raising the profile of women and their contribution to this key financial sector.
Insurance Insolvency Fund
The Government is working towards establishing a fund to provide financial protection to insured individuals in Gibraltar in the event that their motor insurer becomes insolvent. The Motor Insurance Bureau, which provides the green card scheme for Gibraltar and covers claims for uninsured and untraceable drivers, has long advocated for the establishment of this fund. The legislation is at an advanced stage, with the Government recently consulting all stakeholders. The intention is to implement the new scheme before the end of this year.
Gibraltar Authorisation Regime (GAR)
The Gibraltar Authorisation Regime (GAR) has been embedded in the UK Financial Services and Markets Act for some time. Before the regime can be commenced, regulations need to be made in the UK that give access to the relevant sectoral activities. Before this happens, the UK law requires HM Treasury to conduct assessments of the law and supervisory practice in Gibraltar to ensure there is sufficient alignment.
In the last year, a lot of preparatory work has been done with HM Treasury and the UK regulators on their sectoral assessments for insurance, insurance distribution and investment services. This has gone very well and the time dedicated to the GAR by both HMT and the UK regulators has been significant, which we are very grateful for. Before the UK can commence a sector assessment, there is a pre-assessment phase where HMT needs to identify the corresponding activity in Gibraltar law to the one in the UK for which access is being proposed. The outcome of the pre-assessment phase is to determine the scope of UK market access that the activity would get (if the eventual assessment is successful). The pre-assessment phases have almost been completed for insurance and insurance distribution and good progress has been made for investment services.
Monthly meetings between HMT and HMGoG/GFSC have continued in the last 12 months and a lot of work has been done on ensuring that the Gibraltar legislation remains aligned with the UK’s in this period (examples- operational resilience (now complete), consumer duty and various other changes).
Whilst the timings are a matter for the UK, we envisage the sector assessments for insurance and insurance distribution (and possibly investment services) on the law and supervisory practice in Gibraltar being commenced by HMT with the support of the UK regulators. There will be a lot of work involved for Government and the GFSC throughout the process and we expect good progress to be made by the end of the year. We also envisage a lot of work being done on the new MoUs which the GAR requires between the relevant parties.
In parallel, working closely with the GFSC, we will continue working on the necessary legislative changes to ensure that UK alignment is maintained. In particular, the UK Solvency 2 and banking changes will be major areas of focus.
Artificial Intelligence in Financial Services Taskforce
On March 29, 2023, the UK published its AI regulation: a pro-innovation approach paper. The proposed framework adopts a principles-based approach that aligns with our highly regarded DLT framework in many aspects. Key principles identified in the UK’s whitepaper that resonate with Gibraltar’s DLT principles include safety, security, robustness, transparency, fairness, and governance. Given Gibraltar’s market access to the United Kingdom for financial services and its regulatory experience with cutting-edge technology businesses, the Government is exploring potential opportunities within the artificial intelligence space. We are looking to establish a taskforce of regulatory experts to guide us through this process, similar to what was done with the DLT regime. We anticipate making further positive announcements on this matter in due course.
Sustainable Finance Strategy
Gibraltar Finance is developing a strategy in partnership with the Ministry for Environment and Sustainability. The aim is to establish a comprehensive plan built on four simple initiatives: sustainability accreditation for eligible entities, voluntary sustainability fund with periodic business donations, coordination of private and public sector knowledge with international expertise, and exploration of industry associations. The goal is to expand the product line with more sophisticated offerings aligned with industry demand.
Cat2 Working Group
The Government has participated in the Cat2 Working Group formed through the Finance Centre Council and facilitated various meetings with Government departments. The group will soon present their proposals and recommendations for revamping and improving the Cat2 regime to the Government.
Companies Act Reform Working Group
The Companies Act 2014 Working Group, also formed through the Finance Centre Council, recently submitted proposals to amend the Companies Act in a manner that benefits Gibraltar. These changes include updates to accommodate the global environment and opportunities to make Gibraltar a more competitive and secure jurisdiction for business and investors. The Government is currently consulting various Government stakeholders and look forward to implementing the changes with broad support.
Qualifying Non-UK Recognised Pension Scheme
The Government is working with the industry to make amendments to the Qualifying Non-UK Recognised Pension Scheme to enhance its appeal to high-net-worth individuals and those who have reached their pension lifetime allowance and wish to make additional provisions.
Support for Start-Up Grind Gibraltar
Gibraltar Finance is a major sponsor of Start-Up Grind Gibraltar. Over the past year, Start-Up Grind has hosted 14 events with a total of 741 attendees, with eight events specifically focused on financial services.
Distributed Ledger Technology
Since 2018, Gibraltar has emerged as a global leader in the field of DLT. The forward-thinking regulations, supportive ecosystem, and world-class infrastructure have attracted numerous blockchain-based companies, driving economic growth and employment opportunities. As we enter the new fiscal year, we must build upon these foundations and leverage the tremendous potential offered by DLT and other innovative technology sectors.
Firstly, let us acknowledge the significant achievements of the previous year:
- The commitment to regulatory clarity and investor protection has enhanced Gibraltar’s reputation as a safe and reliable destination for blockchain-based businesses, demonstrated by the resilience of our permissioned firms during challenging market conditions and significant events such as the collapse of FTX, the Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange.
- Incorporating a 10th Core Principle into the framework, which is now firmly established.
- The Gibraltar Digital Skills Academy continues to thrive.
- The University of Gibraltar now includes elements of technology and entrepreneurship in relevant courses, including those related to financial services, computing, and the MBA.
- We have 12 fully permissioned and active DLT Providers.
- 18 Initial Coin Offerings have been registered under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
- 5 firms have been granted permission as Virtual Asset Arrangement Providers.
- We have granted permission to one full bank.
- Gibraltar remains a significant player in the crypto hedge funds sector.
- We have a strong pipeline of new applicants at various stages of the process.
Moving forward, our focus for the coming year will be on three key areas: regulatory enhancement and development, infrastructure development, and growth in permissioned firms.
We understand the importance of striking a delicate balance between facilitating innovation and maintaining robust regulatory standards, especially in challenging markets. Therefore, we will closely collaborate with industry experts, stakeholders, and international partners to refine our regulations, ensuring they remain adaptable, forward-looking, and resilient.
We will also collaborate with educational institutions to develop specialised programmes that equip our youth with the skills necessary for the digital economy. Additionally, we will foster partnerships between industry leaders and academia to promote research and development in blockchain technologies, facilitating knowledge transfer.
The DLT sector has acted as a catalyst for positive change, propelling Gibraltar onto the global stage of innovation and technology. Our efforts will persist with this objective at the forefront of our minds.
We have actively worked with the Gibraltar Funds and Investments Association (GFIA) and the private sector. It has been a pleasure to closely collaborate with all parties involved in this sector, who have demonstrated innovation and professionalism. We regularly meet and, as a result of their work, we continue to introduce significant and exciting legislation for the industry, enabling Gibraltar to compete with other jurisdictions. According to the 3rd Annual Crypto Hedge Fund Report 2021 by PwC, Elwood Asset Management, and AIMA, the Cayman Islands, the United States, and Gibraltar are the top three locations where crypto hedge funds are domiciled.
Gibraltar Recovered Assets Fund
Established on March 29, 2023, the Gibraltar Recovered Assets Fund is a dedicated fund aimed at collecting assets recovered under economic crime legislation. This fund represents a significant milestone in our jurisdiction’s efforts to strengthen the fight against economic crime in Gibraltar. Its main objective is to support the excellent investigation work carried out by the Royal Gibraltar Police (RGP) and HM Customs (HMC) in combating economic crime. As part of its administration, the fund will contribute to specialised training and development initiatives, enhancing the capabilities of these law enforcement agencies in tackling economic crime.
The Gambling Division in Gibraltar is responsible for regulating the gambling sector, which is a significant contributor to the country’s economy. Their roles involve assessing and controlling applicants/licensees, ensuring compliance with regulations, addressing AML/CFT measures, handling consumer complaints, and collaborating with sports governing bodies.
Licensing is a crucial aspect of the Division’s responsibilities. They assess and control the fitness and propriety of applicants/licensees, evaluate business models, and ensure compliance with regulations. The division also collaborates with other organisations, such as Companies House and the legal sector, to regulate the industry effectively.
The Division has been focused on enhancing industry standards regarding AML/CFT and CPF. They conduct AML assessments, case reviews, and enforcement actions against operators. Two regulatory settlements were agreed upon, and licensing conditions were imposed on operators. Ongoing work includes AML process audits by a third party and potential enforcement actions.
The Division also handles sports integrity matters, including receiving and administering betting integrity reports and assisting investigations for sports governing bodies and law enforcement agencies.
Regarding policy, outreach, and international work, the division engages in policy revisions, consultation on the Gambling Act, and monitoring the UK regulatory landscape’s impact on Gibraltar. They participate in the Gambling Regulators’ European Forum (GREF) and collaborate with local supervisors, law enforcement, and the GRA.
Future work streams include the digitalisation of processes, with the introduction of a licensing portal and digital case management system. The Division aims to become a separately incorporated body with its own budgeting and accounting, supported by increased staffing or external expertise if necessary.
The Liaison Department, established in 2013, continues to provide support to the gaming and finance sectors. They offer assistance and solutions for queries related to HMGoG departments. This department has also introduced a one-stop-shop service for HMGoG applications referred to the Special Needs and Disability Unit. The department prioritises providing effective and confidential services to meet citizens’ requirements. They provide support to Gov.gi eServices, operating from 323 Main Street from Monday to Friday.
Under the new Chief Executive James Neish, GBC (Gibraltar Broadcasting Corporation) has undergone significant changes since October 2022. The changes are part of a phased plan aimed at revitalising GBC with a new focus on local content and community engagement. The initial phase, rolled out from March 3, 2023, introduced a new mission statement emphasising local, original, community-oriented, audience-focused, and live programming.
The television schedule has been revamped to prioritise local content, with at least 2.5 hours of additional local programming each week. The number of repeats has been reduced, and efforts are being made to have non-repeated shows in the 8 pm and 9 pm slots, centred around GBC News. The Hub, a popular programme, has been moved to an earlier start time of 9 pm as a trial for potential future changes. Additionally, archive material is being showcased in a new weekly Flashback Programme and Friday night specials called GBC Rewind, leading up to the 60 Years anniversary airing.
GBC News TV has also undergone changes, including a revamped look with a new news desk, improved graphics, and increased live outside links in the 8:30 pm bulletin. Scripting improvements have been made, and ongoing news training and staff development are being delivered by professionals from organisations like the BBC.
On the radio front, hourly news summaries have been introduced on weekdays and weekends. The lunchtime radio programme has been modernised and rebranded as “Gibraltar Today,” now featuring a stronger live and community element. The show is also visualised live on TV thanks to automated studio cameras. Furthermore, a weekly Wednesday Q&A/Discussion segment from the radio show is now televised at 7:30 pm.
GBC has seen positive feedback from the community regarding the increased focus on local content. Companies advertising with GBC have welcomed the changes, leading to increased rates and extended advertising options. Existing clients continue to renew their contracts.
GBC has expanded its offerings to include podcasts, such as the daily news podcast “Gibraltar Today,” interviews from TV’s “Life Stories,” and an inside look at GBC with CEO James Neish. The station has also improved its content across all social media platforms.
In terms of community engagement, GBC organised successful Open House tours in December, with high attendance and fully subscribed evening slots. The station plans to increase coverage of events like the Island Games in July, Gibraltar Fair in August, and a Children’s Broadcasting Summer Camp. Work experience programmes and visits by schools to Broadcasting House have been implemented to introduce the next generation to broadcasting and give back to the community.
An audience survey conducted in October, which included face-to-face interactions with the community, influenced several of the changes. The survey revealed that GBC is highly important to the community, with a preference for Llanito content (local dialect) on TV and radio. The majority of respondents still prefer to watch GBC on their TV sets, with a significant number regularly watching the 8:30 pm news. Almost all respondents consume GBC News in some form, with many accessing it online and through social media. Radio Gibraltar also received strong support, with half of the respondents being regular listeners.
GBC continues to invest in and develop areas where it has been successful, such as sports coverage and local programmes like City Pulse and The Powder Room. Plans are already underway for National Week and Christmas programming. The GBC Open Day in 2022 was a success, featuring community features and raising £165,000 through a broadcasting marathon. Charities have expressed gratitude for the support provided by the Open Day Trust in delivering their services.
Aquagib (AGL) has made significant progress in various areas to recover and advance following the impact of the Power’s Drive fire incident in Gibraltar last summer, which severely affected AGL’s infrastructure and Gibraltar’s water capabilities. Here are the key highlights regarding AGL’s expenditures, projects, and future plans:
- Expenditures in FYE 31.03.23: AGL spent £16.5 million to maintain and improve potable and seawater supply and sewerage services in Gibraltar. This included £722k on asset maintenance projects.
- Power’s Drive Incident: Due to a fire in the Power’s Drive tunnel in July 2022, only 58% of the asset maintenance projects were completed. The remaining funds for these projects will be rolled over to FYE 31.03.24.
- PW Production Capability: AGL invested £1,298k in a capital project to increase potable water production capability. The project was completed in March 2023, providing AGL with an increased production capability of 1,000,000 litres per day.
- Eastside Development Project: AGL is working with HMGoG to finalise the delivery of a new potable water/seawater main for the Eastside development area. The project is approximately 90% complete and will be finalized in FYE 31.03.24.
- Planned Projects: AGL will finalize the replacement of the PW pumping main, work on the electrical panel and rock stabilisation at the Governor’s Cottage RO plant, infrastructure improvements at Waterworks, IT infrastructure improvements, and replacement of water mains and customer meters.
- Future Developments: AGL will continue working with HMGoG on projects such as relocating water production and AGL facilities to North Mole and completing the infrastructure for potable water/seawater delivery to the new Eastside development area.
Below are the key points regarding the Gibraltar Electricity Authority (GEA) and its ongoing initiatives, projects and future plans:
- Optimisation of North Mole Power Station: The GEA has been focusing on optimising the operation and performance of the North Mole Power Station. This includes work on automation, software, and control, which were not present in the now demolished Waterport Power Station.
- Gas Supply Interruptions: Some major outages experienced in the past year were directly attributed to gas supply interruptions at the North Mole Power Station. The LNG terminal operator, Shell/Gasnor, identified the faults and implemented measures to improve the terminal’s reliability and prevent future failures.
- Increase in Production and Decrease in CO2 Emissions: The North Mole Power Station increased its production from 182 million kWh to 189 million kWh. Despite a modest decrease, CO2 emissions decreased from 119,247 tonnes in 2021 to 118,669 tonnes in 2022. This reduction is significant considering that 2022 marked a return to pre-COVID activity levels.
- Battery Energy Storage System (BESS): The GEA is working on installing a BESS. The project is progressing well, and an ECA tender for the system is expected to be announced by the end of the summer 2023. The BESS, along with continued investment in renewable energy, aims to reduce power outages and lower overall emissions.
- The GEA has undergone a complete review of its structure together with all staff members, management and Unite the Union. This has resulted in a proposed new structure which will make the GEA fit for purpose in the new facilities and more efficient.
These points highlight the GEA’s efforts to improve the reliability, performance, and environmental impact of Gibraltar’s power generation system.
In respect of ITLD, the information provided outlines the significant investments made by HM Government of Gibraltar in the Information Technology and Logistics Department. Here are the key points:
- Establishment of the National Cyber Command to oversee the implementation of the National Cyber Security Strategy.
- Migration to O365 for enhanced protection against spam and malware.
- Rollout of encryption services to encrypt sensitive data to GDPR standards.
- Implementation of advanced protection systems using artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.
- Software Development:
- Introduction of a penalty point system to enforce consequences for traffic violations.
- Development of a real-time Gibraltar Vehicle Enquiry Service for data sharing with the UK and Spain regarding vehicle owner information.
- Transition from physical payslips to electronic payslips for convenience and efficiency.
- Implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information software (AEOI) to comply with international standards.
- Coordination of IT works and network connectivity for school relocations.
- Coordination of departmental relocations to maintain an efficient IT infrastructure.
- Replacement of data centre hardware.
- Replacement of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology.
- Replacement of Gibraltar Law Courts audio/visual system.
- Growth of the government secure intranet through new fibre connections.
The investments and projects outlined demonstrate the government’s focus on data security, software development, and infrastructure improvements. These initiatives aim to ensure the reliability, efficiency, and security of government operations while promoting digital access, collaboration, and compliance with industry standards.
In the realm of digital services, HM Government of Gibraltar has made significant progress in implementing eAdministration and enhancing eServices. Here are the key highlights:
- Implementation of Proactis Source-to-Contract, Procure-to-Pay and Invoice Capture systems, Infor Finance & Supply Management system, which streamline Government operations and improve efficiency.
- Enhanced invoice processing and automation capabilities, resulting in the registration and processing of circa 60,000 invoices per financial year.
- Upcoming deployment of Infor Global Human Resources/Workforce Management systems to revolutionise HR management across the Government.
- Integration of HR functions such as employee records, time and attendance, leave management and more.
- Centralised employee data and standardised approach to workforce management to improve HR operations and support the workforce.
- Userbase of over 41,000 registered users supported by online Chat and face-to-face Customer Services at 323 Main Street.
- 33,000 fully ID verified users able to access all eServices.
- Citizen and Corporate accounts.
- Gov.gi eServices App expanded to incorporate all eServices currently available on the Gov.gi portal.
- Integrations with numerous back-office systems, including Tax, Employment, LPS, Housing, Companies House, OFT, ID & GHA Registration Systems.
- Processing of over 160,000 applications online.
- Featured enhancements of existing eServices such as Tax Return, Manage your Tax Code/Allowances, Health Card Registration/Renewal, ID card Registration/Renewal.
- Addition of new services, including a full suite of Housing Services, Business Registration, Business Licensing, My Organisations, My Relationships.
In 2022, over 14,100 online transactions were made bringing in Revenues of circa £790,000 (CSRO & DVLD).
So far in 2023, over 4,950 online transactions have been made bringing in Revenues of circa £374,000 (CSRO & DVLD).
In 2022/23, 68% of Tax Returns were submitted using Gov.gi eServices. 22,300 submissions were made online. A further, 10,500 non Gov.gi returns were received by the Tax Office.
Departments On-board for eServices:
- Department of Employment
- Civil Status and Registration Office (CSRO)
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Department (DVLD)
- Property Register
- Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA)
- Income Tax Office
- Housing Department
- Office of Fair Trading (OFT)
- Freedom of Information
These advancements in eAdministration and eServices demonstrate the Government’s commitment to digital transformation, improving efficiency and providing convenient services to citizens and corporates.
GHA & ERS
The Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA) has made significant progress in various areas to strengthen its healthcare services and recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some key achievements and initiatives undertaken by the GHA:
- Strengthening of primary care and Accident and Emergency (A&E) services:
- Increased capacity in primary care, offering approximately 490 additional appointments per week.
- Established a designated child GP service in the Child Health Centre.
- Improved waiting times in A&E with the help of increased frontline paramedics, the establishment of the 111 service, and the development of the Minor Injuries unit.
- Over 95% of patients with minor injuries seen, treated, and discharged within 4 hours.
- Improvements in intensive care unit (ICU) and clinical outcomes:
- The ICU played a crucial role in the COVID-19 response and demonstrated excellent clinical outcomes compared to international healthcare systems.
- Addressing waiting lists and introducing new care pathways:
- Implemented waiting list initiatives to reduce waiting times for orthopaedic procedures, cataracts, and urology.
- Developed new pathways of care, including fractured neck of femur and knee replacement pathways, a one-stop-shop urology pathway, and a multidisciplinary spinal clinic.
- Introduced additional cancer clinics, enhanced mental health services, and strengthened community rehabilitation pathways.
- Infrastructure and equipment improvements:
- Procured and installed essential equipment, such as a new ultrasound machine for A&E, computers on wheels for documentation, new X-ray and endoscopy equipment, two new ambulances and a second CT scanner.
- Established new departments, including ENT and audiology with specialised clinics, a Theatre Sterile Supplies Unit, and an additional operating theatre.
- Enhanced the Special Care Baby Unit, increased capacity for urgent scans, and improved cancer clinics.
- Strengthening human resources and HR function:
- Streamlined and accelerated recruitment processes.
- Resolved outstanding workforce issues, including long-term sickness, grievances, and well-being matters.
- Implemented improved HR policies, procedures, health and safety measures, and appraisal systems.
- Adopted the GoG HR management and information system.
- Financial management and planning:
- Strengthened controls, managed expenditure, and improved stock control and waste reduction.
- Reviewed contractual arrangements and implemented systems to better manage referrals and non-clinical technical support.
- Developed key strategies, including a National Dementia Strategy and a three-year strategic plan, supported by supplementary estates, Information Management &Technology and workforce strategies.
These achievements highlight the GHA’s efforts to enhance healthcare services, improve patient care delivery, and prepare for future challenges. The GHA acknowledges the sacrifices made by healthcare professionals and the community of Gibraltar during the pandemic and expresses gratitude for their patience and support.
The Care Agency, as the statutory body responsible for safeguarding and social care in Gibraltar, is dedicated to investing in robust governance systems. These systems are crucial in navigating the complexities of an evolving world, facilitating transparent, ethical, and accountable decision-making. In line with this commitment, the Care Agency has made notable advancements in multiple areas to strengthen its services and recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some key accomplishments of the Care Agency:
Between April 2022 and March 2023, Care Agency staff received training in all of the following areas:
– Child Protection Conference Domestic Abuse Conference
– Activities training for Disability Services staff
– Team Development days across all Care Agency services
– Dementia Awareness
– Wellbeing at work conference
– Bespoke training for Newly Qualified Social Workers
– Intense Psychodynamic-based training
– Mental Health First Aid for children and adults
– Safeguarding Children Training Tiers 1 and 2
– Understanding developmental trauma
– Child Sexual exploitation
– Self-Harm Awareness
– Conflict Resolution
The training of Care Workers is crucial for recruitment initiatives led by the Care Agency and the Ministry of Employment. Comprehensive training equips care workers with the knowledge, skills, and competencies necessary to fulfil their responsibilities effectively. In 2022, there was an 80% staff retention following induction training, compared to 45% in 2021.
The Disability Service plays a vital role in supporting individuals with disabilities in the community. Their services include:
– Enhanced Independence: Promoting and enabling independence by assisting clients in developing essential life skills, such as personal care, mobility, communication, and daily living tasks.
– Access to Specialised Services: including occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy, assistive technology, and counselling.
– Social Inclusion and Community Participation: Actively promoting social inclusion and facilitating community participation through recreational activities, social events, and workshops.
– Advocacy and Rights Protection: Acting as advocates for the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities, providing information, guidance, and support in navigating legal frameworks and accessing entitlements.
– Support for Families and Caregivers: Recognising the importance of supporting not only clients but also their families and caregivers through respite care, counselling, and educational resources.
The Care Agency also currently has 18 satellite residential flats and an additional 6 flats within Dr. Giraldi Home. Two more flats have been secured during the 22/23 Financial Year, one for permanent admissions and the other for respite use. These developments ensure that clients with disabilities requiring residential placement or respite have access to appropriate services.
St. Bernadette’s Resource Centre
St. Bernadette’s Resource Centre is a day service for individuals over the age of 16 with various disabilities. It caters to learning disabilities, physical disabilities, challenging behaviour, and complex care needs. Currently, there are 27 service users attending the centre.
The Care Agency collaborates with local companies to secure work placements for clients with disabilities, promoting independence and positively impacting their health and well-being.
The introduction of Community Learning Disability services has also led to a significant increase in respite services over the past year. The Care Agency now provides services to an average of 55 new service users. However, there has been a reduction in new referrals to the Disability Service during this financial year.
The Waterport Terraces Day Centre provides a stimulating environment for social interaction among its 106 clients. Currently, 18 to 24 clients attend the centre daily.
Domiciliary Care is also provided to support vulnerable and elderly individuals at home.
The Drugs and Alcohol Rehabilitation Service has also established links with various departments and professionals within the Gibraltar Health Authority (GHA), such as the Dietician, Registration Department, Psychiatry, and Public Health. This collaboration aims to ensure a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing substance misuse issues.
The Dry House is a transitional accommodation option for clients who have completed the residential programme at Bruce’s Farm and are ready to reintegrate into the community. It provides a supportive and substance-free environment for individuals in the early stages of their recovery journey.
Multidisciplinary meetings are held weekly, bringing together professionals from different fields to discuss and coordinate the care and support provided to clients. The involvement of representatives from charities and organisations involved in drugs and rehabilitation services further enhances the joint undertaking to address substance misuse in the community.
Additionally, the Therapeutic Team continues to provide a range of interventions and programs tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. These interventions include step work, harm reduction strategies, relapse prevention, family conferences, family support groups, aftercare groups, and specialised programmes for co-parenting, domestic abuse, perpetrators of harmful behaviours, and trauma work for children and young people.
The team also prioritises staff training and professional development to ensure they have the necessary skills and knowledge to effectively support clients on their recovery journey. Psychological evaluations and progress reports are conducted as part of the therapeutic process, and the team actively participates in in-house and multiagency forums related to children and families, adult safeguarding, public protection, and court welfare.
Overall, the Drugs and Alcohol Rehabilitation Service strives to provide comprehensive and effective support for individuals struggling with substance misuse, with a focus on holistic care, collaboration with other professionals and organizations, and ongoing improvement of services.
Children’s services encompass a wide range of support and interventions aimed at ensuring the well-being and safety of children and families.
Since the lifting of COVID restrictions, the Family Centre has experienced a significant increase in the number of children and families seeking support and guidance. Whether it’s seeking advice on parenting techniques, accessing resources for child development, or addressing specific concerns related to their children’s well-being, the Family Centre has become a go-to destination for families in need. This rise in demand reflects the centre’s effectiveness and reputation, indicating that it is successfully meeting the needs of the community and serving as a valuable support system for families navigating the complexities of raising children.
To accommodate the increased referrals, the duty service merged with the long-term team in December 2022. As a result, social workers now work with children and families across different case statuses, enabling a more comprehensive approach. This restructuring has led to timely completion of actions related to referrals and has enhanced the skills and practices of social workers.
The Family and Community Centre plays a vital role in ensuring that children, young people, parents, and caregivers can access support easily. The centre offers various services and support, including:
– Family drop-in service twice weekly, providing parenting advice and support for parents with children aged 0-4.
– Structured Parenting Classes through the ‘Incredible Years’ Programme, available to all parents and advertised through Seesaw, education, and social workers.
– Outreach support and advice to families open to the Child Protection Team, providing practical assistance within the home to help families engage with the child protection plan.
– Supervised contacts/family time for 28 families from January 2022 to January 2023.
– Seasonal activities for two different age groups, organised regularly throughout the year.
– Fostering Network meetings held at the Family Centre, attended by foster carers.
The team has developed individual activity plans for each child in care, ensuring access to extracurricular activities and events to support their emotional well-being and maintain connections outside of residential care.
A dedicated play area has been created at Tangier Views, featuring a trampoline, table tennis table, smokeless BBQ, and chill-out area, providing opportunities for children to maintain their fitness and improve their mental health.
Children’s Services has identified a Personal Advisor for young people leaving care, offering support from the age of 16 up to 25 years, as they would receive from their birth families. The Personal Advisor works closely with EDEC to ensure that care leavers are offered adequate employment opportunities.
The Care Agency actively promotes fostering placements. The Fostering and Adoption service continues to develop and provide care for children who would otherwise enter residential services. There is an ongoing campaign to recruit foster carers within Gibraltar, with regular fostering network meetings taking place. Efforts are focused on increasing the number of children placed in fostering or connected carers placements, thereby reducing the need for residential care settings.